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Anthony V. Minniti believes that in October he will open a first anywhere: a cannabis dispensary under the same roof as a pharmacy.
Minniti, who since 1997 has operated the Bell Rexall Pharmacy at Haddon and Kaighn avenues in Camden, on Friday, August 18, had his recreational marijuana license approved at a meeting of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
The city, which is adjusting its law governing recreational cannabis businesses, does not want them located in residential buildings.
An amendment to Camden's cannabis ordinance had its first reading at last week's Council meeting and will get the second reading, public comment, and final vote at the August 8 meeting.
Cuzzie's LLC seeks Council support for its license application to open a store at the One Market Street apartment complex.
The company received its conditional retail license from the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission last July and would be operated by Joshua Evans of Sicklerville, according to the commission. The other owner would be Lemar Boone, according to the Camden Cannabis Committee's report to Council.
"This company has the financial wherewithal to support this cannabis business," the committee told Council.
New Jersey’s recreational cannabis industry launched one year ago, and Dominic Rivera is nearly $1 million in debt.
The Camden man thought his drive-through dispensary would be open by now, but it took 13 months to get the state to OK his application — approval he received just last week. In the meantime, he is nearly finished with construction, has hired nine employees, and has spent thousands on electricity for a store that can’t have any customers yet.
A company based in Wayne, Pennsylvania, is scheduled to appear before the city zoning board on Monday seeking a variance to construct a 57,000-square-foot, two-story cannabis-cultivation facility on Carman Street, north of Admiral Wilson Boulevard.
As Promised Holdings LLC owns the property around 1600 Carman Street, between South 16th and South 17th streets, and proposes to demolish long-vacant buildings to make way for the recreational marijuana growing building.
As Promised Holdings LLC would demolish a vacant warehouse and build a two-story facility, according to its application to the Camden zoning board, which is scheduled to hear testimony on it next Monday in City Hall at its 5:30 p.m. meeting.
A variance is sought to open the cannabis cultivation business on the site in the city's Transit Oriented Zone, which does not permit cannabis cultivation. Two other zones in Camden permit cannabis cultivation businesses.
When Bell's doors first opened at the corner of Kaighn and Haddon avenues, Albert Einstein and Edwin Hubble were researchers at California Institute of Technology; Bela Lugosi was starring in the first Dracula movie; construction of the Empire State Building had just ended and had just begun on Rockefeller Center; "The Star-Spangled Banner" was adopted as the U.S. national anthem; and marijuana had yet to be federally banned, so pharmacies like Bell sold cannabis products.
Officials in Camden have given approval for the city’s first marijuana dispensary, run by a business that’s been around for nearly 100 years.
“It’s an exciting and extremely humbling experience,” said Bell Pharmacy owner Tony Minniti.
Nowhere else in the country does a pharmacy act as a dispensary for medical and recreational cannabis.
Minniti says they are currently renovating the second floor to create the space for a dispensary, which includes a new $85,000 elevator. Minniti says the business is coming full circle to its history.
The law aims to give those with past marijuana convictions first dibs in the licensing process to open up a sales location.
Not only does Caban have convictions in his past, the Camden native was raised and still lives in an impact zone, defined by the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission as an economically challenged area marked by high unemployment and poverty, and disproportionately affected by the nation’s War on Drugs.
Manuel Caban is a lifelong Camden resident who was arrested twice for marijuana offenses and a decade ago spent 30 days and then a year in prison for dealing.
That, he figures, makes him an ideal candidate for a license to sell cannabis now that New Jersey has legalized it with a focus on giving individuals who suffered under cannabis prohibition a solid path into the industry.