Ganja Pioneer Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion Commemorates 4/20 with New Jersey Celebration and Miami Expansion

NEW JERSEY: While “Weed Day” 4/20/21 marks a luminous occasion for longtime marijuana activist and entrepreneur, Ed “NJWeedman” Forchion, in his home state of New Jersey, per the recent legalization of cannabis, the victory is somewhat bittersweet for him.

The bitter is that his current “Citizen’s Dispensary” operates as a black-market operation as he continues to battle for inclusion within the legal arena. The sweet is not only a huge in-store and online celebration party this 4/20, but also the announcement of his expansion, with a 420-themed lounge opening soon in Miami, Florida, entitled, The Joint of Miami. (photo credit: Dr. Boogie)

Greetings From New Jersey, Now The 15th State To Go Green

By Stu Zakim

After a long rollercoaster rider, which saw the Cannabis legislation in New Jersey go through many iterations, this past Monday, it finally became legal.  The Garden State now stands in a unique position of being the epicenter of legal Adult Use and medical Cannabis on the East Coast.  The bigger question is can the current infrastructure manage what will surely be a significant increase in consumers purchasing legal Cannabis without minimizing the importance of keeping the state’s over 100 thousand medical patients fully supplied with the medicine they need to manage their lives in a healthier way than opiates.

Stu Zakim and NORML:’s Keith Stroup

In most of the states where the voters or legislators have approved laws that make Cannabis use legal, there has been a major hit on the medical patients.  New Jersey, in learning from the other states, have addressed a number of issues to avoid making the same mistakes.  They need to be applauded for their focus on the patients rather than the Adult use consumer as it’s all about how the plant makes life better for all.

Besides the celebration of the approval of the bill and Governor Murphy’s signing of it, the new bill will finally deal with the long term impacts of social injustice and equity that have affected communities of brown, black and Latino’s.  No longer can the police arrest someone if they smell of Cannabis or alcohol based on that fact; there are other long needed corrections to how the police deal with underage and Adult use Cannabis in place thanks to the concerted efforts of industry leaders like Leo Bridgewater, Ed Devereux, Scott Rudder, William Caruso, Susanna Short, Happy Munkey and others.

Curved Papers founder Michael O’Malley and Stu Zakim at the 2018 NYC Cannabis Parade

From a financial perspective, New Jersey is situated between two of the most populous areas in the I-95 corridor on Amtrak – NYC and Philadelphia – and should reap those rewards as it expands its medical program and moves towards awarding more licenses before moving on the Adult Use dispensaries.

As a communications strategist who has spent 8 years preparing for this moment on the East Coast, validates all the principals my friend David Rheins created with his forward thinking Marijuana Business Association (MJBA) and their many media properties (including MJNews Network and Marijuana Channel One used to help influence public opinion through educational programs long before others joined that space.

As the legalization process moves forward in NJ and hopefully NYC, please check MJNews for regular updates.  It’s going to be an exciting time and thanks for reading.

New Jersey Governor Murphy Signs Historic Adult-Use Cannabis Reform Bills Into Law

NEW JERSEY:  Governor Phil Murphy today signed historic adult-use cannabis reform bills into law, legalizing and regulating cannabis use and possession for adults 21 years and older (A21 – “The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act”) and decriminalizing marijuana and hashish possession (A1897). The Governor also signed S3454, clarifying marijuana and cannabis use and possession penalties for individuals younger than 21 years old.

“Our current marijuana prohibition laws have failed every test of social justice, which is why for years I’ve strongly supported the legalization of adult-use cannabis. Maintaining a status quo that allows tens of thousands, disproportionately people of color, to be arrested in New Jersey each year for low-level drug offenses is unjust and indefensible,” said Governor Murphy. “This November, New Jerseyans voted overwhelmingly in support of creating a well-regulated adult-use cannabis market. Although this process has taken longer than anticipated, I believe it is ending in the right place and will ultimately serve as a national model.

“This legislation will establish an industry that brings equity and economic opportunity to our communities, while establishing minimum standards for safe products and allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on real public safety matters,” continued Governor Murphy. “Today, we’re taking a monumental step forward to reduce racial disparities in our criminal justice system, while building a promising new industry and standing on the right side of history. I’d like to thank the Legislature, advocates, faith leaders, and community leaders for their dedicated work and partnership on this critical issue.”

“At long last, New Jersey is turning the page on our previous treatment of marijuana use,” said Dianna Houenou, incoming Chair of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC). “I am excited to get to work building on the successes of the medical program and standing up the adult-use cannabis industry. It’s an honor to be part of this historic movement in New Jersey.”

“The failed War on Drugs has systematically targeted people of color and the poor, disproportionately impacting Black and Brown communities and hurting families in New Jersey and across our nation,” said U.S Senator Cory Booker. “Today is a historic day, and I applaud Governor Murphy, the legislature, and the many advocates for racial and social justice whose leadership is ensuring that New Jersey is at the forefront of equitable marijuana legalization policy. I will continue to work with my colleagues in the Senate to end the federal marijuana prohibition so we can finally begin healing the wounds of decades of injustice.”

“This is a historic reform that will have a real-life impact on social justice, law enforcement and the state’s economy,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “We can now move forward to correct social injustices at the same time that marijuana is made legal for adults. This  will launch a new cannabis industry with the potential to create jobs and generate economic activity at a time when it is desperately needed. The decriminalization law is the most sweeping measure of its kind in the country and is a groundbreaking step in our continued effort to make criminal justice reforms that are fairer and more effective. This will help reduce the racial disparities and social inequities that have long plagued our criminal justice system.”

“For the last fifty years, marijuana criminalization has been used as a tool to propel mass incarceration,” said Senator Sandra Cunningham. “It has done immeasurable harm to Black and Brown communities around the country, and today we begin to right the ship here in New Jersey. I look forward to seeing the tangible impact this legislation has on our communities in the years to come.”

“I am proud to have been a driving force behind the most progressive decriminalization law in the country and I am grateful to finally see it enacted,” said Senator Teresa Ruiz. “Every day roughly 100 people in New Jersey are arrested for marijuana possession, this law is a move that offers individuals a second chance and ensures they do not become entangled in the criminal justice system. This is yet another step towards bringing justice and equity to our communities. Going forward, we must continue to look for creative solutions to reverse the generational impact the War on Drugs has had.”

“This will usher in a new era of social justice by doing away with the failed policy that criminalized the use of marijuana,” said Senator Nicholas Scutari, the leading advocate of legalizing adult-use marijuana in New Jersey over the past decade. “Too many people have been arrested, incarcerated and left with criminal records that disrupt and even destroy their lives. We don’t want the criminal justice system to be an unfair barrier to success. By implementing a regulated system that allows people age 21 and over to purchase limited amounts of marijuana for personal use we will bring marijuana out of the underground market where it can be controlled, regulated and taxed, just as alcohol has been for decades. New Jersey will now be a leader in legalizing a once stigmatized drug in ways that will help the communities hurt the most by the War on Drugs and realize the economic benefits of the new adult-use cannabis market.”

“We’re moving closer to the long-overdue need to end cannabis prohibition,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. “So much time, effort, and thought have gone into this legislation. We’ve continued conversations, for what I believe, has produced a stronger piece of legislation with a focused eye toward social justice and equity. This is the beginning of a new era of economic opportunity, social justice for marijuana possession, and hope for a better future for thousands of New Jersey residents.”

“With legalization comes an unprecedented opportunity for residents to clean the slate with expungement provisions and for communities to grow their economic base with businesses,” said Assemblyman Jamel Holley. “A key component of cannabis legalization is addressing social justice concerns. The fact that Black New Jerseyans are 3 or 4 times more likely to be arrested on cannabis charges has contributed to the disenfranchisement of black communities. We have the opportunity here to also right the wrongs in our society in regards to past criminal possession of cannabis. No matter where you stand in the legalized marijuana debate, there has been a clear understanding that minorities within our urban communities have been hit hardest in the so-called War on Drugs. During this entire campaign for legalization, there has been one united vocal stance: There was harm done in the past and it must be corrected.”

“This new law includes real, enterprising opportunities for New Jersey communities that have been disproportionately impacted by cannabis prohibition, along with more defined employment opportunities and a commission that requires diversity,” said Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake. “This will be a clear revenue generator for the State, and the social justice and diversity portion in the legislation remains imperative.”

“Undoubtedly, this is the largest regulatory undertaking the state has considered since the Casino Control Commission,” said Assemblywoman Angela McKnight. “Remaining at status quo meant continued disparity in arrests for African Americans and teens for amounts now to be considered personal use.  We are moving the state in a direction more compassionate for cannabis and in line with what is happening across the country in regards to legalization.”

“This has been a long time coming in our State,” said Assemblyman Joseph Danielsen. “who chairs the Assembly Federal Relations and Oversight Reform Committee led the discussion on the bill in today’s hearing. “Social justice for black and brown communities, which have been generationally impacted by cannabis prohibition, and equity in business are priorities in this legislation. We cannot fairly, or effectively provide regulation without ensuring these communities stay at the forefront of the conversation.”

“New Jersey voters on November 3rd issued the Legislature a mandate: to provide the infrastructure for the legalization of cannabis in New Jersey. Today, we move on that directive by presenting legislation for discussion with fellow legislation and statewide stakeholders,” said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly. “The War on Drugs in many ways became a war on particular communities, incarcerating millions of black and brown people and affecting families irreparably for decades. Our work on refining this legislation aims to correct the economic and social justice disparities surrounding cannabis use.”

“With Governor Murphy’s signature, the decades-long practice of racist marijuana enforcement will begin to recede, in a shift that emphasizes the urgency of building the most equitable framework possible for cannabis legalization,” said Amol Sinha, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, which is a founding member of New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform. “With this historic reform, New Jersey also shifts our approach to youth possession and use by moving away from the punitive status quo to a framework that values public health, harm reduction, and the well-being of young people. Our state’s cannabis laws can set a new standard for what justice can look like, with the removal of criminal penalties for possession and an unprecedented portion of tax revenue dedicated to addressing the harms wrought by the drug war. Signing these laws puts in motion the next phase of this effort: to work relentlessly to transform the principles of legalization into greater racial and social justice in New Jersey. This is a new beginning – and the culmination of years of advocacy – and we must keep in mind that it is only the start.”

Under A21, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) will promulgate regulations to govern the medical and adult-use industries and oversee the applications for licensing of cannabis businesses. The legislation further provides for the Legislature to reinvest cannabis revenues in designated “impact zones”; directs the CRC to promote diversity and inclusion in business ownership; and contains critical employment protections for people who engage in lawful behavior with respect to cannabis.

A1897 reforms criminal and civil penalties for marijuana and hashish offenses, as well as provides remedies for people currently facing certain marijuana charges. The bill prevents unlawful low-level distribution and possession offenses from being used in pretrial release, probation, and parole decisions and provides certain protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation. The bill also creates a pathway to vacate active sentences for certain offenses committed before enactment of the enabling legislation.

The Governor today also signed S3454 into law, clarifying penalties for marijuana and cannabis possession and consumption for individuals younger than 21 years old. The legislation corrects inconsistencies in A21 and A1897 concerning marijuana and cannabis penalties for those underage.

“I have been working on decriminalizing adult-use marijuana for well over three years now, and I am happy to finally see it become a reality,” said Senator Ronald Rice. “This is a common-sense and just law that gives an equal playing field for folks in communities of color. Many have argued that legalizing adult-use marijuana has been for social, economic and criminal justice, however, decriminalization for me, is equally as important. I will continue to watch closely and fight to ensure communities of color are treated equally.”

“This is only one piece in the many parts of change that must be done in the name of social justice for our communities. The War on Drugs in many ways became a war on particular communities, incarcerating millions of people and affecting families irreparably for decades,” said Assemblyman Benjie Wimberly. “The action we take now to help our black and brown communities who have been disproportionately affected by current laws surrounding cannabis use is critical to trauma for future generations.”

“There have been far too many people, especially those from Black and Hispanic communities, who have been negatively impacted by the criminalization of cannabis,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. “There have been long-term impacts on the lives of all people in this state, but considerably those of color. This law is the product of taking a hard look at our current laws, listening to the will of the majority of New Jerseyans and taking a common-sense approach to cannabis offenses.”

“Black New Jerseyans are up to four times more likely to be arrested on cannabis charges than White people. It is a sad fact, a further painful reminder that so people in our communities have been disenfranchised for far too long,” said Assemblyman Jamel Holley. “There have always been glaring social justice concerns and obvious inequity in the high number of arrests of minority residents. Now, finally, this is the time for it to stop.”

“It’s time for the change we seek,” said Assemblywoman Angela McKnight. “New Jersey residents are not happy with the status quo and we need to move in a direction of compassion for the communities that have long been targeted by current regulatory criteria. The call for action, for social justice reform, is resounding throughout our nation. And it begins in New Jersey today.”

“Decriminalization and expungement for those who have been disproportionately incarcerated for marijuana offenses is well overdue in New Jersey and many other states throughout this nation,” said Assemblywoman Britnee Timberlake. “A criminal marijuana charge has a detrimental effect on an individual’s opportunity to access higher education, obtain gainful employment, receive housing support, and address child custody issues.  Not all communities are impacted equally by marijuana enforcement, measures to reduce the collateral consequences of criminal records are ones of racial, social, and economic justice. This is about social justice for a people who have endured the inequities in the law for generations.”

In July 2019, Governor Murphy signed legislation (“The Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act”) to reform New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program (MMP) and expand patient access to medical marijuana, ensuring this life-changing medical treatment is affordable and accessible for those who need it most.

In December 2019, Governor Murphy signed one of the most progressive expungement reforms in the nation, giving individuals entangled in the criminal justice system the opportunity to fully participate in society. S4154 eliminated fees for expungement applications and additionally created a petition process for “clean slate” expungement for residents, as well as required the State to implement an automated clean slate expungement system. Furthermore, the bill required that low-level marijuana convictions be sealed upon the disposition of a case, preventing those convictions from being used against individuals in the future.

 

New Jersey Attorney General Grewal Issues Additional Guidance To Prosecutors On Handling Low-Level Marijuana Possession-Related Cases

NEW JERSEY:  Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal has issued additional guidance to prosecutors concerning the prosecution of low-level marijuana cases, supplementing his August 29, 2018 and November 4, 2020 guidance.

Attorney General Grewal directed all New Jersey municipal, county, and state prosecutors to adjourn, until at least January 25, 2021, any juvenile or adult case solely involving the following marijuana possession-related offenses:

  • possession of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(a)(3);
  • possession of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(a)(4);
  • being under the influence of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(c);
  • failure to make lawful disposition of marijuana or hashish in violation of N.J.S. 2C:35-10(d);
  • use or possession with intent to use drug paraphernalia under N.J.S. 2C:36-2 involving only marijuana or hashish;
  • possession of a controlled dangerous substance while operating a motor vehicle in violation of N.J.S. 39:4-49.1 involving only marijuana or hashish; and
  • any disorderly persons offense or petty disorderly persons offense subject to conditional discharge pursuant to N.J.S. 2C:36A-1 involving only marijuana or hashish.

For cases involving the above-enumerated charges as well as other offenses, the Attorney General directed prosecutors to use their discretion to either postpone the case in its entirety or seek dismissal, without prejudice, of the marijuana possession-related charge(s) and proceed with prosecution of the remaining charges. Notably, today’s guidance does not affect the prosecution of cases charging distribution of marijuana or possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

“Fairness demands that we suspend prosecution of marijuana possession-related cases while we await direction from the Legislature on the parameters for decriminalization of marijuana and legalization of regulated adult-use cannabis,” said Attorney General Grewal. “It simply does not make sense or serve justice to proceed with prosecutions on charges that may be foreclosed soon through legislative action.”

Previously, on November 4th, the Attorney General issued guidance to law enforcement emphasizing that they have broad discretion in handling low-level marijuana offenses, and encouraging them to exercise that discretion in light of anticipated legislative action that may decriminalize marijuana.

Attorney General Grewal reiterated that more comprehensive guidance, including direction on handling previously adjudicated matters, will follow when the Legislature provides details of the framework for marijuana decriminalization and the legalization of adult-use cannabis.

Guidance for Marijuana Possession Cases Pending in Municipal and Superior Courts: click here.

Guidance Regarding Municipal Prosecutors’ Discretion in Prosecuting Marijuana and Other Criminal Offenses, August 29, 2018: click here.

Interim Guidance on the Constitutional Amendment Legalizing Cannabis, November 4, 2020: click here.

NEW JERSEY: TerrAscend Issued Permit To Dispense Medical Marijuana In Phillipsburg As “The Apothecarium”

The Facility, doing business as “The Apothecarium,” is Now the 13th Dispensary Statewide, First in Warren County

NEW JERSEY: The New Jersey Department of Health today issued a permit allowing TerrAscend to begin dispensing medical cannabis in Phillipsburg.  TerrAscend is operating their dispensary under the name, “The Apothecarium.”  This is the 13th facility dispensing marijuana for medical use in New Jersey and the first to operate in Warren County.

The Phillipsburg location is set to open tomorrow, November 24th. TerrAscend is currently cultivating and processing in Boonton Township.

“Expanding access to our growing patient population continues to be a high priority especially during these unprecedented times,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “The opening of this site will provide residents in the Northwestern New Jersey better access to products they need to treat their conditions.”

TerrAscend Corp. | CSE - Canadian Securities Exchange

The 12 other ATCs currently dispensing include Ascend Wellness of Montclair, The Botanist (Compassionate Care Foundation) of Egg Harbor and Atlantic City, Garden State Dispensary of Woodbridge, Eatontown and Union Township, Breakwater Alternative Treatment Center of Cranbury, Curaleaf NJ, Inc. in Bellmawr, Harmony Dispensary in Secaucus, Rise in Paterson, Zen Leaf Elizabeth and Columbia Care in Vineland.

Participation in the program continues to grow. There are currently over 97,500 patients, 3,600 caregivers and 1,250 physicians enrolled.

Patients and caregivers can visit the Division of Medicinal Marijuana’s website if they choose to change their preferred ATC. The change can also be made by calling the Customer Service Unit of the Division at 844-419-9712 and does not require changing ID cards.

Patients can refer to the FAQ section of the website for additional information. Active physicians enrolled in the program are listed by county and medical specialty.

New Jersey residents interested in registering for medicinal marijuana can click here.  Registration requires an authorization by a participating physician.

Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, And South Dakota Legalize Marijuana

Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota Legalize Marijuana 

Voters in Mississippi and South Dakota Approve Medical Marijuana Ballot Initiatives

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota have legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older, as voters in each state approved their respective ballot initiatives at the ballot box. South Dakota also passed a medical marijuana initiative and became the first state in American history to enact both policies on the same day. The Marijuana Policy Project was instrumental in the Montana and South Dakota campaigns.

“This historic set of victories will place even greater pressure on Congress to address the glaring and untenable conflicts between state and federal laws when it comes to cannabis legalization,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, which was founded in 1995 and has played a central role in 10 state-level legalization victories over the past eight years.

“From the Badlands to the Jersey Shore, and from the Grand Canyon to Big Sky Country, Americans across the country have embraced the idea that marijuana legalization is the policy decision that best serves the interests of public health, public safety, and, most importantly, justice,” said Matthew Schweich, deputy director of the Marijuana Policy Project and one of the leaders of the Montana and South Dakota campaigns.

  • Arizona passed its ballot initiative, Proposition 207.
  • New Jersey passed its legislatively referred initiative, Public Question 1.
  • Montana passed complementary initiatives, Constitutional Initiative 118 and Initiative 190.
  • South Dakota passed its legalization initiative, Amendment A, and its medical marijuana initiative, Measure 26.
  • Mississippi passed its medical marijuana initiative, Amendment 65.

“With the passage of these initiatives, one-third of the population now lives in jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis for adult use, and 70% of all states have embraced cannabis for medical use. The federal government is out of step with a clear national trend toward legalization,” said Hawkins. “We can put an end to the social injustices and other harms that result from the criminalization of marijuana. While cannabis legalization is not the cure-all to end the war on drugs, it is a necessary step and would provide an opportunity for many long-oppressed communities to finally have a chance to heal.”

“Regardless of who controls the White House, the House, and the Senate, we should demand landmark federal marijuana reform in 2021,” added Hawkins. “This is not a partisan issue. And with more Republican Senators representing states with medical marijuana and legal marijuana for adults, we’re hopeful that marijuana reform can serve as an opportunity for bipartisan cooperation. It’s also worth noting that the victory in New Jersey has the potential to accelerate reform efforts in neighboring states.”

Heading into Election Day, 11 states had legalized marijuana for adults 21 and over, and 34 states had legalized medical marijuana. Now, there are 15 legalization states and 36 medical marijuana states in the country.

Terrapin Announces Plans For Hoboken Dispensary

Begins local process for medical cannabis with community impact plan

NEW JERSEY: Terrapin has announced plans to open a medical cannabis dispensary in Hoboken, with a social equity community impact plan that has the support of the community’s nonprofit sector.

Minority-owned Terrapin has plans to open a dispensary in Hoboken at 86 River St. After nearly three years of outreach to the community, Terrapin is ready to begin the local zoning process, preparing paperwork to move through local zoning boards. Terrapin wanted to wait until it had the support of the North Jersey community before making any announcements.

“As always, Terrapin is focused on planting local roots,” said Chris Woods, the founder, owner and CEO of Terrapin. “We are so thankful to our partners in the Hoboken community who have welcomed us with open arms. We are excited to serve these communities as responsible corporate actors in meeting the needs of cannabis patients, while also leaving a positive community footprint.”

An expanded cannabis industry means potential for long-lasting community partnerships. As part of its commitment to local North Jersey communities, Terrapin has identified several nonprofits and organizations to work with to create a beneficial footprint for its neighbors. Much of the focus is on diversity in workforce and economic development.

Nonprofits and organizations Terrapin partnered with include: 

  • WomenRising, a Jersey City-based nonprofit that assists women and families in North Jersey with counseling, economic development and advocacy. Terrapin has pledged to assist in creating an employment pipeline by connecting WomenRising alumni to potential employment opportunities within Terrapin. Terrapin also has pledged financial support to the organization.
  • Oasis, A Haven for Women and Children. The Paterson organization’s mission is to change the lives of women and children by breaking the cycle of poverty through compassionate programs designed to feed, clothe, educate and empower women and children in need. Terrapin will work on an employment pipeline with the organization, while providing volunteers in the form of directors to develop mentorships and training.
  • Project Help, a group dedicated to serving homeless veterans in northern New Jersey. The nonprofit has been able to expand services to include financial support and legal assistance. One initiative Terrapin has pledged to support is to assist veterans suffering from PTSD. There has been a strong nexus between medical cannabis legalization and assisting veterans, and Terrapin would like to see that momentum grow. Terrapin helped to launch VetForce in Pennsylvania, a security firm for the cannabis industry. Terrapin has plans to assist with a similar program in New Jersey where veterans run security for the cannabis industry.
  • Hudson Pride Center, the LGBTQ+ Community Center for Hudson County. Hudson Pride offers a variety of health, support and social services to the LGBTQ+ community. Hudson County has the largest LGBTQ+ population in the State of New Jersey and Terrapin has long stood as an ally to this community. We will work to educate the local community about the medical efficacy of cannabis, especially for conditions that might be relevant to the LGBTQ+ community, like anxiety and HIV/AIDS. Terrapin will also work with the group on a jobs pipeline.
  • United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). Terrapin has entered into a Labor Peace Agreement with the Union to avoid labor disputes and to promote harmonious labor relations.

“Terrapin recognizes that partnerships between the business and nonprofit sectors create synergies which benefit individuals and the larger community,” said Roseann Mazzeo, S.C., WomenRising Executive Director. “Workforce development is critical to our mission of assisting women and their families to achieve self-sufficiency and live safe, productive and fulfilling lives. We look forward to working with Terrapin in developing additional opportunities to support this mission.”

Social equity job fair 
Terrapin also has plans for a job fair with an emphasis on social equity. Terrapin will model the program after a similar event the company held in Michigan, where Terrapin provided resources to socio-disadvantaged communities looking for access to a new cannabis industry. Drawing upon our experience with Color of Cannabis, Terrapin will place a focus on diversity as it establishes operations in Hoboken.

Color of Cannabis provides technical business support, mentorship training, and partnerships for people of color and stakeholders negatively impacted by cannabis prohibition. The group will oversee a social equity informational session and resume-building workshop for Terrapin in New Jersey, holding the event virtually if COVID-19 prohibits in-person gatherings. Those who attend the informational session will receive valuable resume-building and interview tips to improve chances of employment. Participants will be encouraged to attend a Terrapin job fair and Color of Cannabis will screen resumes to ensure diversity in hiring.

Support from community leaders 
Terrapin partnered with several high-profile figures in the Hoboken community, including Joseph Castelo, a second-generation descendant of Galician Spanish immigrants who dreamed about building up the community that gave him and his family so many opportunities. Joe, a filmmaker and entrepreneur, has provided fundraising platforms and events for GLAAD, The Water Project, the Boys and Girls Club, and he has donated to numerous local charities. Antique Bar and Bakery, the Hoboken restaurant Joe co-owns, donates food to the community’s homeless shelter. Antique’s senior employees and Joe have also mentored local youth interested in pursuing careers in the restaurant business. Joe himself has extended employment opportunities to ex-inmates, an exercise that has been tremendously successful.

“It has been an honor and a pleasure to work with Chris Woods and his team at Terrapin,” Castelo said. “Terrapin’s culture aligns strongly with our commitment to serving the local community. We are thrilled to enter into a partnership to work with Terrapin to bring more opportunity and diversity to Hoboken’s workforce, while also offering access to patients who need medical cannabis. We look forward to a long relationship.”

Accountability
Terrapin has established several boards to reflect a commitment to Hoboken. The volunteer-based advisory boards include counseling on community impact, workforce development, and medical cannabis efficacy. The boards will convene at least twice a year to ensure that Terrapin is remaining true to its mission of positively impacting the local community, while maintaining a commitment to the integrity of medical cannabis.

Terrapin’s history as a pioneer
Founded in Boulder, Colo. in 2009 as one of the first licensed medical marijuana providers in the country, Terrapin has led the industry as a pioneer. Expanding to New Jersey serves as a homecoming for founder Chris Woods, whose family resides in the state. What started as a one-man business in an office park in South Boulder has blossomed into a national company with more than 300 employees.

Terrapin operates six dispensaries and four cultivation/processing facilities in Colorado. In addition to its Colorado operations, Terrapin operates a licensed grower/processor medical marijuana facility in Clinton County, Pennsylvania, and it recently launched a medical cannabis grower facility in Grand Rapids, Mich.

“We have a proven track record that ensures that we will fit in with the fabric of this community,” Woods added. “The relationships we have developed with the community allow us to serve as a responsible partner who is invested in the future of Hoboken and North Jersey.”

Acreage Announces Grand Opening Of The Botanist By Compassionate Care Foundation in Atlantic City

The Botanist by Compassionate Care Foundation is the first The Botanist dispensary to open in the state of New Jersey

Acreage-Holdings

NEW JERSEY:  Acreage Holdings, one of the largest vertically integrated, multi-state operators of cannabis licenses and assets in the U.S., today announced the opening of The Botanist by Compassionate Care Foundation on Saturday, February 22, 2020, by its business partner, New Jersey’s Compassionate Care Foundation, Inc., a New Jersey nonprofit corporation. Acreage and CCF are parties to a services agreement with CCF under which Acreage delivers its operational expertise, product development capabilities, and The Botanist retail dispensary brand.  On November 15, 2019, Acreage and CCF entered into a reorganization agreement which will result in CCF becoming a wholly-owned, for-profit subsidiary of Acreage.  Closing of the transaction is subject to state approval.

The medicinal cannabis dispensary is located on the Atlantic City Boardwalk at 1301 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, New Jersey. With the opening, Acreage now owns or has management services, consulting or other agreements for 31 operational dispensaries in 12 states, including 13 The Botanist branded dispensaries.

Developed by Acreage, The Botanist is both a retail and product brand, deeply rooted in health and wellness, and focused on the holistic power of cannabis to help individuals live balanced lifestyles. The Botanist CCF offers a wide selection of flower-only products and features a “science meets nature” retail design reminiscent of a 19th century botanist laboratory. Offering a warm and inviting environment in which to learn about the healing properties of the cannabis plant from trained patient care specialists, The Botanist CCF’s design includes a “SEED BAR” education station, a private consultation room, The Botanist’s signature “green foliage wall,” and much more.

Cannabis Advocacy Organization M4MM To Launch Licensing Boot Camp For Minority & Women-Owned Business Owners in New Jersey

NEW JERSEY: On the heels of the success of its groundbreaking cannabis licensing boot camp in Missouri, advocacy organization Minorities for Medical Marijuana  (M4MM) proudly announces three kickoff events for its New Jersey Cannabis Licensing Boot Camp (CBLB) program.

M4MM’s New Jersey Cannabis Business Licensing Boot Camp (CBLB) is an unparalleled opportunity for those interested in entering the cannabis industry who may not have access to critical information and resources. New Jersey recently expanded its Medical Marijuana program to better serve  the state’s medical patients, which now has more than 50,000 enrollees. CBLB provides intensive training and support, empowering participants with the knowledge, connections and support necessary to successfully obtain a license.The support provided by Trulieve, Inc.-Presenting Sponsor, Oaksterdam University-Education Partner and New Jersey Cannabis Industry Association-Industry Partner allows M4MM to prepare potential licensees quickly and efficiently prior to the next open application period.  The CBLB, slated for Oct 19th and 26th, is a two day intensive training developed specifically to help minority- and women-owned businesses prepare for the licensing process in the Garden State.

In March 2019, the CBLB debuted in St. Louis Missouri with over 50 minority, women, and veteran small business owners participating. Over 40% of the attendees applied, partnered, or formed joint ventures in pursuit of a cannabis business license.“Our program has already helped dozens of people overcome multiple obstacles and successfully navigate the licensing process, says M4MM Founder and CEO Roz McCarthy. “Our proven method can replicate the same success in New Jersey, helping minorities and women entrepreneurs enter the legal cannabis industry in record numbers.”

The three kickoff events are scheduled on September 17th 6pm-9pm EST, at LaunchPad Newark,nSeptember 24th at Historic Trenton Masonic Temple, and October 1st at NJ Cowork Street in Camden NJ will give an overview of New Jersey’s licensing process, address questions and concerns, preview the CBLB instructional curriculum, and meet key medical cannabis experts who will be teaching at the CBLB in October. The CBLB KickOff event fee is $25. Aimed at tackling inequity and the lack of minority- and women-owned business operators in the cannabis industry, the CBLB is scheduled for October 19th and 26th from 8:30a- 6:00pm EST at LaunchPad Newark. This integrative multi-week workshop will be open to 150-200 qualifying business license applicants. Attendees can expect to gain a clear understanding of the licensing process, access Oaksterdam University’s nationally renowned educational tools and experts, learn key strategies, receive specialized training and resource development through M4MM, gain exclusive access to industry professionals necessary to build businesses that succeed, and access to additional pre- and post license support. For more information and registration go to www.m4mmunited.org.

 

New Jersey Requesting Applications For 24 ATC Endorsements – What Applicants Need To Know

By: Rosemarie Moyeno Matos, Esq.

NEW JERSEY: Hot on the heels of Governor Phil Murphy’s May 2019 announcement that his administration would be moving forward with expansion of New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program (the “MMP”), the Department of Health (the “DOH”) published a new Request for Applications (the “RFA”) for new alternative treatment center (“ATC”) permits and endorsements on July 1, 2019. It’s important to note that this RFA process still falls under the purview of the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act (“CUMMA”),[1] despite Governor Murphy signing the “Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act” (the “Act”) into law on July 2, 2019. The Act will eventually turn oversight of the MMP from the DOH to a Regulatory Cannabis Commission upon its creation.

Pursuant to the RFA, the DOH will award up to 24 permits and endorsements for cultivation, manufacturing and dispensary operations throughout the northern, central and southern regions of the state. This article will summarize the RFA requirements and any significant differences from prior application requirements.

NUMBER OF ENDORSEMENTS BY REGION & OPERATION:

For the first time since the inception of the MMP, the state will be issuing separate “permit endorsements” for cultivation and dispensing operations, presenting an opportunity for small businesses and minorities to enter the industry on a smaller, more affordable scale. The RFA is looking to award:

Total Permit/Endorsements Type of Permit/Endorsement
4 Vertically Integrated Permits (“VIPs”)[2]
15 Dispensary Endorsements
5 Cultivation Endorsements[3]

The 24 ATC permits and endorsements awarded under the RFA are to be distributed regionally and by operation in the following manner:

Region Number and Type
Northern (Warren, Morris, Essex Counties and up):2       Cultivation Endorsements5       Dispensary Endorsements1-2    VIPs*
Central (Hunterdon, Somerset, and Union through Mercer and Ocean Counties):2       Cultivation Endorsements5       Dispensary Endorsements1-2    VIPs*
Southern (Burlington and Atlantic Counties all the way down):1       Cultivation Endorsements5       Dispensary Endorsements1-2    VIPs*

*One VIP will be awarded in each region. The region of the 4th VIP will be determined at the time of award based on the applicant’s overall score and patient need.

Except for VIP permits, each individual endorsement requires a separate application. Applicants should note:

  • you are limited to a maximum of three (3) applications, one (1) per region;
  • you may not submit for a VIP and for individual endorsements;
  • you may only submit for one (1) cultivation endorsement; and
  • you will only be awarded one (1) VIP or one (1) individual endorsement.

APPLICATION COSTS:

Two checks totaling $20,000 must accompany each application submitted. The checks represent a $2,000 non-refundable application processing fee and the $18,000 permit endorsement fee if awarded. The DOH will destroy the $18,000 checks submitted by applicants not awarded an endorsement.

In addition to application fees (up to $24,000 depending on the number of applications submitted and whether a permit/endorsement is awarded), applicants will need typically need budget for real estate, professional services and contractors, and construction costs. Property and construction costs vary depending largely factors such as location and form of interest (lease vs ownership). Professional or contractor’s costs largely depend on the fees of each professional or contractors and the specific needs of the applicant, but an applicant can realistically expect to pay well over $100,000 for professional and contractor services leading up to and during the application process.[4]

APPLICATION REQUIREMENTS:

Similar to last year’s permit applications, current applications will consist of Part A Mandatory Information, Part B Scored Criteria and Personal History Disclosure Forms for each owner with 5% or more ownership interest in the ATC, as well as each principal, director, board member, and employee.

Part A Mandatory Information largely seeks entity and property information including listing of all individuals and entities having greater that 5% ownership interest in the ATC, all creditors and all individuals and entities having managerial/operational control over the ATC. Applicants will also need to include all formation documentation, all contracts related to management, intellectual property, real estate, equity in, or funding of applicant, Letters of Support and evidence of zoning compliance, site plans and a list of its medical advisory board members with a copy of the board’s by-laws.

Part B Scored Criteria (300 points) includes:

1.   Submission of security, environmental impact and quality control and quality assurance plans (30 pts);

2.   ATC’s compliance history in government-regulated marijuana programs or other highly regulated industry (20 pts);

3.   Financial plan/proof of funding evidencing applicant’s ability to meet supply demand (20 pts);

4.   Evidence of community support and participation (20 pts);

5.   Ability to provide appropriate research data through evidence of past contributions (10 pts);

6.   Compliance experience in cultivating, manufacturing, or dispensing marijuana, as applicable, in government-regulated marijuana programs (100 pts); and

7.   Submission of labor peace agreement, labor compliance plan and a workforce and job creation plan with evidence of WBE, MBE or VOB certifications (100 pts).[5]

IMPORTANT DATES:

Action Date
Application Opening Period on or before July 15, 2019
RFA Question Submission Deadline July 26, 2019
Pre-Application Webinar August 2, 2019
Dispensary Apps Submission Deadline 3:00 pm EST on August 21, 2019
Cultivation & VIP Apps Submission Deadline 3:00 pm EST on August 21, 2019
Final Agency Decision None Provided

CONCLUSION: While the number of endorsements to be issued from the June 3rd RFA (108) versus this RFA (24) dropped significantly, there is reason to believe that additional RFAs will be published soon after the Regulatory Cannabis Commission is established and operational, as the medicinal marijuana  patient population continues to grow in leaps and bounds. The question we frequently receive from interested applicants is whether they should be preparing for this application round or future rounds. The answer depends largely on where the applicant stands with its business plan, site control, capital and team (including owners, managers, and employees, as well as outside professionals and contractors). However, if you are not application ready for this round, you should actively continue to work toward it for the next. If history has taught us anything, an applicant truly vested in this space should be preparing themselves to be application ready at a moment’s notice since RFAs tend to drop with little to no advance warning!

The law firm of Moyeno Gonzalez & Associates PC has represented previous applicants in this space and is ready to assist in answering any questions you may have regarding the RFA, the application process and post-licensing compliance. Please feel free to reach out to us via our website.

In her current role as Partner at Moyeno Gonzalez, Rosemarie Moyeno Matos represents both for-profit and non-profit organizations, rendering a wide range of legal services from entity selection and formation to regulatory compliance advice and commercial transaction representation. In August 2018, she represented a client who submitted two applications for vertically integrated Alternative Treatment Center licenses through New Jersey’s Medicinal Marijuana Program. Currently, she represents several entrepreneurs and start-ups in the medical and recreational cannabis space. Through her corporate and regulatory background, Rosemarie has a keen awareness of the issues faced by those participating in the cannabis industry and successfully helps her clients navigate them.
[1]N.J.S.A. 24:6I-1 et seq.
[2] VIPs include one (1) each of a cultivation endorsement, a manufacturing endorsement and a dispensary endorsement.
[3]Cultivation Endorsements are further broken down by tiers based on canopy size. Of the 5 individual Cultivation Endorsements awarded under this RFA, endorsements will be awarded based upon canopy size in the following manner:
1       for a Canopy up to 5,000 ft2
2       for Canopies between 5,001 ft2 and 20,000 ft2; and
2       for Canopies between 20,001 ft2 and 30,000 ft2.
VIP applicants are not restricted to canopy tiers and may choose any canopy size up to 30,000 ft2.
[4]Additional capital needed to evidence financial suitability and to commence operations are not factored into these application costs.
[5] Applicants who fail to submit a signed labor peace agreement will lose 30 points. Additionally, applicants who submit proof of WBE/MBE/VOB certifications will receive full credit of 30 points, while those who submit evidence of meeting the criteria in the future may receive partial credit.