Today is the last day to submit applications to operate a medical marijuana dispensary in New Jersey. At 5 p.m., the state's online portal will stop accepting applications, and paper applications will no longer be accepted at the office of the Department of Health.
As of Friday afternoon, the health department said it was still assessing how many applications had come in and would disclose the final number sometime next week.
Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal announced Tuesday the state’s medical marijuana program now has approximately 30,000 patients.
Applicant Terrapin New Jersey, part of Colorado-based Terrapin Care Stations, called the state’s 300-page application “complex.”
“Basically New Jersey did its homework,” said Peter Marcus, communications director for Terrapin New Jersey. “This was one of the most robust application processes we’ve gone through. It was very complex. The way New Jersey did it was very forward-thinking and smart in that they clearly wanted to identify the best actors and companies for an expansion.”
Terrapin Care Stations currently operates five dispensaries in Colorado and one in Pennsylvania, where the company received one of 12 licenses available to an applicant pool of 179.
“[Pennsylvania] was the first example we saw of a state valuing community engagement [in applicants]. New Jersey has taken it to the next level,” Marcus said.
“Not only are they requiring community engagement, they’re making you show how you’ll hire local from the community, how you’ll advise medically, [how we’ll] have to be forward-thinking about engaging in research and partnering with universities. This was not just how are you going to grow marijuana, but how are you going to take the industry into the next phase,” he said.
To engage with the community, Terrapin New Jersey is partnering with Jersey City-based nonprofit WomenRising, which aims to help women and families in need.
“We’re going to create a job pipeline for these women. We’re going to be teaching them a skill they don’t have yet and paying really competitive wages,” Marcus said. “We did this because it’s the right thing to do, but what’s really impressive is that New Jersey said, ‘you guys should do this.’”
Should Terrapin New Jersey be chosen for a license, the team plans to set up shop in Hoboken for dispensing and Paterson for cultivation and processing. According to Marcus, no other cannabis companies competing in the process can say that they’ve garnered support from the mayors of both cities.
“That was a big deal for us, to ensure that we were embedding ourselves in the community, not forcing ourselves in,” he said. “Hoboken and Paterson are welcoming us in with open arms, and we’re just thrilled.
“We have a mantra, ‘Don’t just plant cannabis, plant local roots.’”