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John De Los Santos has a plan to open a new recreational cannabis dispensary in Paterson, his hometown; he was given conditional approval last year by state regulators for it. The only thing stopping him is city politics.
Paterson has a limit of three recreational cannabis dispensaries in the city and that quota has been filled. That leaves De Los Santos on the outside looking in, as he struggles to keep investors and a lease in place.
On Tuesday, the second recreational cannabis dispensary in Atlantic City opened. The Design 710 dispensary is owned by Christina Casile, who said the long process to get her business up and running was anything but fun.
While Mayor Marty Small and other city officials previously expressed their support for cannabis-related tourism, in late July they announced that all new license grants would be put on hold in late July.
State Attorney General Matthew Platkin issued guidelines that allow law enforcement officers to use recreational cannabis while off duty as long as it doesn’t hurt on-the-job performance. But first responders are still not clear on the details.
“There’s so many uncertainties now that we still don’t have answers to,” said Steve McConlogue, who heads the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey. He advises that nobody should come to work impaired by any substance.
Mike Davis, a reporter with the Asbury Park Press, explains how municipalities are benefiting and what the money is being spent on. “In Lawrence Township and Mercer County, their business administrator told me they’re basically able to pay for their trash collection next year just off of cannabis alone,” Davis said.
In an interview with NJ Spotlight News, Atlantic City Mayor Marty Small explains the decision and the future of cannabis in the city.
“Our plan is still to be the East Coast hub when it comes to cannabis,” Small said. “We don’t want to oversaturate the market here in the city … so we’re just taking a little pause to make sure that we roll this thing out right.”
The first dispensary for sales of recreational marijuana opened in Ocean County Friday. Before the Social Leaf Dispensary opened in South Toms River, customers would have to travel long distances to access recreational products.
Last week also saw the opening for medical marijuana sales of the Bloc Dispensary in Waretown, Ocean County.
As the cannabis industry continues to grow in New Jersey, more of its workers are unionizing, and labor organizers hope to continue this trend. “We do want certain rights,” said Antonio Melendez-Mott, an employee at The Botanist dispensary. “We want certain wages, and we want to be able to build on that so that in 10 years people are looking back and they are saying, ‘We have a career out of this.’”
“If you don’t get these licenses out the door faster, they’re just going out there selling more product on the street, on the black market. That’s what I’m seeing out there,” said Committee Chair Sen. Brian Stack (D-Hudson).
Republicans concurred. “I will be honest — what you’ve said doesn’t match what we’re hearing from constituents: that there’s a lack of transparency; big corporations get priority; process takes too long,” Sen. Kristin Corrado (R-Bergen) commented.
Sales from New Jersey’s legal cannabis industry, both recreational and medicinal, brought in roughly $180 million this year so far. The update from the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission comes ahead of a legislative hearing on Friday on the status of the 18-month-old market.
The state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission Thursday revoked licenses to grow or manufacture adult-use cannabis by the Harmony company, saying the company owes $700,00 in license fees.