EDITOR’S NOTE: NJ Cannabis Insider is hosting an in-person business networking event on July 14 at The Asbury in Asbury Park. Tickets are limited.
Six new legal cannabis stores will soon open in New Jersey, adding to the dozen or so locations that launched the emerging multi-billion dollar industry last month.
Legal weed sales will begin Wednesday at Curaleaf’s Edgewater Park store, the company said. Edgewater Park Township Solicitor Tom Coleman confirmed on Tuesday that Curaleaf has temporarily resolved all zoning and construction issues for its expanded parking lot which has stalled opening for a month and is “free to open the Edgewater Park site for adult recreational sales”.
Consumers will also be able to purchase recreational weed in the coming weeks at locations in North Woodbridge, Union, Eatontown (owned by AYR Wellness), Lodi (owned by TerrAscend) and Montclair (owned by Ascend) after the Regulatory Commission State Cannabis Department approved the new locations at its board meeting on Tuesday.
Tuesday’s action will bring the number of legal cannabis stores to 18.
“We are thrilled with our approvals at today’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission meeting, including increasing cultivation capacity and converting our three dispensaries to adult sales,” Rob said. Vinasko, spokesperson for AYR Wellness, in an email to NJ Advance Media. “Central Jersey was underserved during the initial launch of adult-use cannabis, with just two dispensaries serving a population of 3.4 million so far.”
“We don’t have a definitive date for the conversion yet,” Vinasko added. “Dispensaries approved on April 11 officially opened for adult use on April 21, so we’re hoping for a schedule within that range.”
On Tuesday, the panel also approved 46 other conditional licenses for small growers and manufacturers to grow and build their facilities, adding to the 102 permits over the past two months. But it could take up to a year for those 148 farms to start selling weed.
AYR’s plans were first reported by NJ Advance Media earlier this month. The alternative treatment center last year acquired Garden State Dispensary (GSD) and on Tuesday was granted approval to expand into the legal weed market and a conditional license for a 66,000 square foot grow facility in Lakewood.
Julie Winter, AYR’s vice president for retail, assured CRC that the company is ready to sell mature weed and that its new Lakewood grow site will help with supplies down the road. Winter outlined AYR’s plans to ensure patient access to medical marijuana, an adequate supply of marijuana for medical and recreational sales, and ample parking, among other requirements to grow legal weed in its Union stores. Eatontown and North Woodbridge.
AYR was the only one of eight alternative treatment centers that the CRC refused to expand into the adult recreational market at the April 11 commission meeting.
The dozen stores that launched adult sales last month were owned by seven medical dispensaries, also known as alternative treatment centers: Verano, Curaleaf, GTI, Ascend, Columbia Care, TerrAscend and Acreage.
Representatives of Ascend and TerrAscend (which uses The Apothecarium banner) appeared again before the CRC on Tuesday to argue its intention to add stores in Montclair and Lodi, respectively.
“These locations have obtained the necessary approvals to transition into the adult recreational market,” said CRC General Manager Jeff Brown. “We are happy to add them.”
The dozen legal cannabis stores that have been operating for over a month are in Bellmawr, Bloomfield, Paterson, Phillipsburg, Maplewood, Rochelle Park, Elizabeth, Lawrence, Williamstown, Egg Harbor, Vineland and Deptford.
Brown said it was a seamless transition to adult recreational weed sales in New Jersey, with $24 million in reported sales and more than 212,000 transactions in the first month.
“This is just the beginning,” Brown said before the panel heard the three ATC presentations to add satellite stores. “There are still a lot of opportunities in the market. Everything went as well as we hoped.”
Meanwhile, Curaleaf in Edgewater Park at 4237 US-Route 130 South first had to settle issues with the township, including doubling the size of its parking lot, before it could sell mature weed. The company’s CEO said it is now ready to put the month-long delay behind it with tomorrow’s launch. Curaleaf Bellmawr has been selling adult recreational grass since April 20.
“After a successful adult launch, we are excited to expand our adult footprint, allowing us to serve even more New Jersey consumers,” Curaleaf CEO Matt Darin said in a statement. “I would like to thank the Town of Edgewater Park for their partnership and for welcoming us so graciously into the community. Curaleaf is committed to ensuring that patients and consumers receive quality products and services as they embark on their journey with cannabis.
The CRC also on Tuesday approved a second grow site for Columbia Care in Vineland, four testing lab requests, as well as a resolution to eliminate the requirement that medical marijuana operations that obtained licenses in 2019 must operate at least one year as a medical dispensary before application for sale in the adult recreational market.
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Suzette Parmley can be attached to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter: @SuzParmley