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Cannabist Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opening in Deptford. This Was Approved, but New Ordinance Raises Doubts For Others.

Cannabist Medical Marijuana Dispensary Opening in Deptford. This Was Approved, but New Ordinance Raises Doubts For Others.
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Columbia Care is opening up its Cannabist brand of medical marijuana dispensaries in Deptford New Jersey. We see they formerly announced their plans in May, and the signage is up on the location.

The new Deptford location is at 1692 Clements Bridge, in that angled shopping center catty-corner from the Mall, and across from the AMC movie theater. The store sits closest to Almonesson Road in the strip mall stores.

The strip mall shopping center also houses Saladworks, Moe’s and others. At times the store that Cannabist is occupying was used as a seasonal Halloween store.

In December 2020 Deptford passed a new ordinance supporting and defining rules around medical cannabis businesses in the town, but then just in July Deptford passed another ordinance prohibiting the operation of any class of cannabis businesses within its geographical boundaries.

What we’ve learned is, the Cannabist Medical Marijuana Dispensary is approved to move forward, but Deptford has “opted out” on future marijuana businesses. “We want to look carefully at any other…” according to Mayor Medany. (More on that later)

Cannabist is actively hiring for employees, and based on an SEC Edgar filing the are targeting a third quarter opening.

Cannabist Deptford Location

Cannabist – Columbia Care

Columbia Care is a publicly traded (OTC) full service marijuana company who cultivate, manufacture and provide marijuana products.

They have licenses with 18 US Jurisdictions and the European Union. In total they operate 122 facilities, with 92 of them being dispensaries.

The company currently offers products spanning flower, edibles, oils, capsules and tablets,

In New Jersey they operate a medical dispensary facility in Vineland, as well as an indoor 50,000 sq ft growing facility in Vineland.

The Vineland medical cannabis dispensary opened a year ago in June 2020, on Delsea Drive.

Deptford Location

As of June 2020, Columbia Care was one of only three operators in the southern New Jersey Region and have been licensed for three facilities in New Jersey.

The Deptford location is actively in construction mode!

The signage is up, and a large dumpster in the back is filled with empty boxes and trash, presumably from the build out of the store.

While we don’t have an official opening date, based on activity at the site, current job postings, and the SEC Edgar report, we assume they are targeting opening in the very soon next few weeks?

Job Postings

Currently we see two job types posted for Sales Associate, fulltime and part time.

This is a medical dispensary, so the job describes the role as a consultant to the patient.

 Under general supervision, Sales Associates provide guidance and education to each patient with medical marijuana needs. Associates assist every patient to ensure he or she is receiving the correct medication that will best benefit the patient’s specific illness and medical condition.

Cannabist Sales Associate Job Listing

This job is not just telling people what your favorite strand of marijuana is… this is a medical process, so employees are asked to manage patient records, purchasing limits and more.

Deptford New Jersey – Cannabis Ordinances

A December 2018 press release announced that Columbia Care was awarded a license to cultivate, process and dispense medical cannabis products in the State of New Jersey.

Currently the New Jersey Division of Medical Marijuana website does list the Columbia Care Vineland location as operational, but they do not yet list Deptford (there is a status field that says “operational” for the others, implying they could list Deptford as approved, or coming soon… but it’s not listed)

Which may be fine… probably the State simply hasn’t updated the website yet.

Interestingly, I can’t find anything online though about a Deptford dispensary approval; State or Local.

Honestly I don’t know how the process works, and can’t quite figure it out.

I would think that locations are approved at both the State and Town?

As an example, the recently opened Botanist location in Williamstown was approved by the town Planning Board.

Deptford December 2020 Ordinance

In December 2020, Deptford passed an ordinance to create land use regulations and licensing requirements for medical cannabis dispensaries within the town. Note: Thank you Deptford for making the final ordinance easily accessible on the internet! (PDF)

The ordinance was created in direct response to cannabis companies showing an interest in Deptford

numerous inquiries have been made and Township officials have met with several companies that operate medical cannabis dispensary facilities in New Jersey and other states across the country that have expressed interest in establishing business operations in Deptford

Deptford Ordinance O.18.20

UPDATE: In the original post I wondered if the facility needed to go to Planning Board for approval, even if not new construction. Mayor Medany responded back that it was his understanding that the ordinance made it an allowable use.

Within the ordinance regulations, it is called out that:

Site plan approval must be obtained from the Township of Deptford Planning Board, or Board of Adjustment as the case may be, and a Certificate of Zoning Compliance must be issued by the Zoning Officer.

While this isn’t new construction, I would think this ordinance’s intent is that it still requires a site plan approval from the Planning Board, which means a public meeting with an announced agenda?

And I don’t see any meetings for Columbia Care. And I look at the notices all the time.

So maybe its coming up very soon? Or I missed it? Or I am misreading the ordinance.

Mayor Medany did respond to my initial questions about the ordinances, but I sent this as a follow up question and I haven’t heard back yet. When I do, I will update this.

And to be clear.. I am all for medical marijuana and even recreational. I am not a big smoker but I think once recreational is readily available, many people would have some amount of weed in their home, similar to having a variety of alcohol and whiskey at the house for entertaining. “Hey Joe! Good to see you! What can I get you? I have Bonesaw Swoosh, Four Roses Bourbon, and some Mendo Cheese weed, if you like” 🙂

Heck the 42Freeway compound is 2 acres in the middle of Deptford… we aren’t going to bother anyone with it!

But… I believe in keeping the public informed, giving things their due process, and giving people a chance to speak their opinions.

So I wonder “Does Columbia Care still need to appear before the Planning Board? Did they get the Certificate of Zoning Compliance?”

I’ll update when I learn more.

Deptford July 2021 Ordinance

Medical marijuana businesses have been legal in New Jersey for several years, of course.

Recently the State of New Jersey legalized recreational marijuana. While marijuana is decriminalized, it is taking some time for the State and communities to establish regulations around the sale of marijuana, as well as the necessary State Administration departments and processes to be implemented.

There are many who think “It’s legal! We can do what we want” and in fact one Gloucester City business tried to operate a recreational dispensary with the “Buy a t-shirt, and we’ll gift you weed”. No that model doesn’t work, and Gloucester City quickly shut them down. (Cleary’s Notebook)

You have to think of the selling of legal weed similar to selling alcohol.

Well first off you can’t decide to sell beer out of your row house living room. “But beer sales are legal!”. Yes, but there are required licenses, permits and approvals.

There are also significant number of laws to govern how alcohol can be sold and consumed. We are all familiar with many key alcohol sales laws.

It’s not the Wild West with legalized alcohol, and its also won’t be the Wild West with legalized weed sales.

Which by they way, is where the delay in recreational sales is happening.. as all the regulations, administration etc need to be worked out.

So along those lines (damn I am going a long way with this post!)…

Not every town in New Jersey sells alcohol. Haddonfield is dry (excluding brewery/wineries). Wildwood Crest is dry.

So maybe not every town in New Jersey wants to sell recreational weed?!

So with the passing of the recreational marijuana law, New Jersey implemented a 180 day window for towns to establish their own ordinances around selling of cannabis.

And for Deptford that means…

Just weeks ago Deptford approved the following ordinance:

O.14.21 Ordinance of the Township of Deptford in Gloucester County, New Jersey Prohibiting the Operation of any Class of Cannabis Businesses within its Geographical Boundaries

Deptford Ordinance: First presented at the July 12th 2021 Council Meeting

Simply, Deptford is “opting out” of additional weed businesses. Or maybe it means they just want to make sure any future business requests are fully reviewed.

I was confused about it for a few minutes… the ordinances seemed to contradict themselves.

But then I heard back from Mayor Medany

Yes we “opted out” as they call it but this particular business was approved last year. It is strictly a medical Marijuana dispensary . They just received a temporary CO pending new sign approval. We want to look carefully at any other Marijuana use before any other approvals

Deptford Mayor Medany, on the new Medical Marijuana store and the recent ordinance regarding additional businesses.