On Thursday, June 9, the Hoboken Planning Board began the hearing process for the application of Story Dispensary, which seeks approval to open a cannabis dispensary on 14th and Hudson Streets (formerly the Hudson Tavern). At a jam packed, standing-room-only planning board meeting that lasted more than four hours, Aaron Epstein, the prospective manager of Story, provided sworn testimony to the board and the public. Aside from a litany of other concerns (increased traffic, loitering, long queues on the sidewalk, lack of parking), residents were extremely worried about the proposed facility’s security plans. Since the location cannot accommodate loading and unloading of product at the premises, Epstein testified that the merchandise will be unloaded at a garage three blocks away. He said that armed guards would escort the delivery person from inside the garage at 12th and Shipyard Lane up 12th Street, past several residential buildings, past the Starbucks, past more residential buildings, King’s supermarket, Sparrow liquor store, the breezeway of the Hoboken Historical Museum (where many children’s programs are held), Walgreens, etc. until reaching 14th Street and Hudson. When questioned by residents, Epstein did not know whether security agents would walk with their weapons drawn or undrawn, nor did he know the type of weapons that would be utilized (rifles, pistols, etc.) He said that these deliveries requiring armed escort will happen at staggered hours, seven days per week during the dispensary’s operating hours (8 am to 10 pm). When not dealing with deliveries, said Epstein, a minimum of two armed guards would be deployed, either inside the facility or outside on the corner of 14th and Hudson. The guards would have their weapons clearly visible, according to Epstein.
Residents voiced concerns about the potential physical and psychological impacts, particularly on children, of having armed guards posted outside the building daily or armed guards regularly walking to escort marijuana shipments between the 12th Street garage and the dispensary. Residents at the meeting had so many unanswered questions that the planning board had to carry the meeting over to August 2. If you are concerned, please consider attending the Hoboken Planning Board meeting on August 2.