Seven Jersey City retail cannabis applicants get planning board approval

The Jersey City Planning Board held a special meeting to hear a number of retail cannabis applicants.

Seven Jersey City retail cannabis applicants received planning board approval during a special meeting last night, setting them on the path to do business in the city.

The applicants are spread out across the city, and if approved by the city’s cannabis board and state regulators, would be among the first line of retail marijuana stores in the city to open up following the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey last year. The stores would be located in neighborhoods such as the Heights, Journal Square and Downtown.

Two applicants in the Heights are located on Central Ave. One named Artistic Dispensary, would be located at 365 Central Ave. and replace the former site of Rainbow Kids, where they plan to renovate the entire space outside and inside.

Another called Decades Dispensary would be located at 404 Central Ave., where they plan to take up a vacant commercial space, and create a new storefront and a vestibule right off the street.

Two more applicants in Journal Square are located near each other on Newark Ave.. Golden Door Dispensary is planning to set up at 638 Newark Ave. at an existing law office near the courthouse, and would be owned by marine corp veteran Brett D’Alessandro.

D’Alessandro, who also runs a nonprofit for homeless and at-risk veterans called Backpacks For Life, said that he wants to help out the Jersey City community by giving them access to cannabis, which he credited to helping him after his service in the military.

“I love this community, and I love helping individuals out, and I figured why not create my career that I’ve been working on for years in cannabis; to use that as a platform to educate individuals about cannabis, but also it can be my career,” he said.

The other applicant, MMD NJ, who were represented by Sarah Dale, Shirley Capaldo and Steve Ashbel, would be nearby at 655 Newark Ave., where they would occupy the space of a former restaurant called Fiesta Grill and revitalize the first floor.

Two of the applicants in Downtown would also be located on Newark Ave. Local Modiv is looking to occupy the former Sleep Cheap furniture store at 155 Newark Ave.

Another business called Idyllx, is seeking to sell cannabis at an existing smoke shop at 171 Newark Ave. While the planning board approved their application, the store faced accusations of illegally selling cannabis there and questions over their community outreach because of it.

“They’ve done nothing for the community so far,” said Shayla Cabrera, the owner of Tia Planta in Journal Square. “You can do a lot for your community without being provided a license. I didn’t have a license and I still gave a ton to my community without having the resources. So what are they bringing?”

The applicant’s attorney, Matthew Miller, denied the charges of existing marijuana sales, and the board had said that any potential illegal activity should be reported to the police.

One of the last applicants approved was Strictly CBD, a Bergen-Lafayatte shop at 394 Communipaw Ave. that currently sells CBD products and are looking to expand towards retail cannabis.

Jeffery Devine, one of the co-owners of the store alongside Venus Smith, talked about the education and community service they’ve done in the area in the past few years. “Bringing lights on under served communities in our areal, and that’s what we hope to do with this opportunity – to put money back into Jersey City and into those areas,” he said.

He and Smith received support from multiple residents for their work in the community. “I gotta tell you, as far as a community activist, you couldn’t get any people more active than Jeffrey and Venus,” said June Jones, the president of the Morris Canal Community Development Corporation. “They’ve made a difference. They’ve been the ears and the eyes of the community.”

Five other applicants that were on the agenda were carried over to the next meeting on April 5.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Mark Koosau can be reached at mkoosau@hudsonreporter.com or his Twitter @snivyTsutarja.