Recently NJ Gov. Phil Murphy patted himself on the back regarding NJ’s legalization program having 1600 business applications that had been processed in just the first year, with 400 of those being owned by women, but the real power to open doesn’t not lie with the Cannabis Regulatory Commission(CRC), it lies in the hands of local Councils and Mayors.
To open a dispensary in NJ the applicant must not only be approved by the CRC, but they need to be given a resolution by the local municipality, along with jump through whatever zoning hoops the municipality decided to put into place. To get the resolution prospective owners must essentially court the local government officials, which gives them the ability to make more back door deals than one could shake a stick at.
If a local Mayor, and or Council person, doesn’t want you to open in their municipality, you are pretty much fucked no matter if you are approved by the CRC or not, which leaves the industry ripe for corruption.
Many municipalities set restrictive regulations so as to only allow for small zones where dispensaries can open, and in one case I am aware of from Woodbury, they even went as far to impose large nonrefundable application fees after already approving others without such fees to purposely dissuade a Muslim man who already owned property within those zones from even applying.
It is mostly multi-state operators who get the nod before any local companies, such as Nova Farms in Woodbury, which is a company out of Maine, while the Woodbury property owner and NJ resident had to take a back seat.
Other municipalities, such as Collingwood, have created restrictive regulations around things such as parking, leaving only one or two properties out of dozens approvable. The municipality requires each dispensary to have one spot per 100 square foot of building, meaning a 4000 square foot building would require 40 parking spaces, and those who do not qualify need to seek an extremely costly variance, which just drives up the costs even more by filling the pockets of attorneys and engineers.