Business owners who had hoped last year to be one of the few authorized for growing, selling and delivering medicinal cannabis are biding their time as state lawmakers debate how to proceed.
“We’re still hoping to be licensed,” said Dr. Ira Trocki, chief operating officer of Relevant 1 LLC. Trocki and his business partner, Dr. Jon Regis, formed their medicinal cannabis company before the state Department of Health’s first round of open applications for new alternative therapy centers in July 2018.
Initially, 146 applicants submitted applications, knowing only six companies would be selected — two each in northern, central and southern New Jersey.
The department awarded the licenses in December, leaving many companies to either re-evaluate their situation or wait until another opportunity for legal marijuana cultivation in the state.
The Egg Harbor City warehouse Relevant 1 was approved by the city to redevelop as a medicinal marijuana facility remains empty.
With approval from the state, either by another round of licensing or legislation to legalize recreational cannabis, Trocki said the company would easily be able to repurpose the properties they own for the marijuana business.
Bills to legalize recreational marijuana use almost made it to a vote in the Legislature in March but were pulled at the last minute.
Other cities that prepared for marijuana expansion also seemed to feel left behind.
“We were more than ready,” said Pleasantville Mayor Jesse Tweedle.
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Pleasantville City Council passed an ordinance to allow a medical marijuana facility ahead of the state’s application deadline. Tweedle and city officials were presented with plans for a dispensary that would allow the city to receive a percentage of the medical marijuana facility’s revenue.
Superior Grow Labs, along with development partner RGC3 LLC, purchased and began development on the former Press of Atlantic City building on Devins Lane for a dispensary. When the company was not selected, construction on the facility stopped.
Co-founder and co-CEO James DiNatale, whose company RGC3 purchased the Devins Lane property, declined to comment on the company’s status.
However, Tweedle said Thursday one of the national cannabis firms awarded licensing may look to lease the 35,000-square-foot building.
MPX New Jersey, a subdivision of Toronto-based commercial pharmaceutical MPX Biocueticals, was awarded licensing in the state and proposed a facility that would include growing and harvesting medical marijuana in Galloway Township.
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Galloway Mayor Tony Coppola said the township signed the documentation needed for the MPX facility, but since they did there has not been any further development.
The other approved licensee in South Jersey, Columbia Care New Jersey, is expected to operate in Vineland.