Recreational cannabis sales started in New Jersey yesterday with long lines forming outside the state’s thirteen licensed dispensaries.
Almost a year and a half after New Jersey voted to legalise recreational cannabis, sales have finally begun across the state.
New Jersey voted to legalise recreational cannabis in November 2020 after years of campaigning from the state’s cannabis advocates. In early 2021, Governor of New Jersey Phil Murphy signed the adult-use cannabis reform bills into law. On April 10 this year the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission finally approved personal-use cannabis sales in the state, announcing that sales could commence from April 21.
For the time being, only existing medical marijuana dispensaries can sell recreational cannabis in New Jersey, with just seven licenses issued to multi-state operators (MSOs) that are already trading across the state. The thirteen dispensaries entitled to sell recreational cannabis products are owned by Ascend Wellness Holdings Inc, Columbia Care Inc, Acreage Holdings Inc, Green Thumb Industries Inc, Curaleaf Holdings Inc, Terrascend Corp and Verano Holdings Corp.
Anthony Coniglio, CIO and President of NewLake Capital Partners – a real estate investment trust for the cannabis industry – told Cannabis Wealth that the approval of adult-use sales in New Jersey is likely to create a domino effect in the Northeast region that could result in over $1 billion of sales in the state over the next 12 months alone.
“The New Jersey’s legalisation of recreational cannabis is particularly attractive to the Northeast limited licenses, multi-state operators and their investors,” Coniglio said. “We think approval by New Jersey voters will be a catalyst for coordination with New York, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania, creating an adult-use region with a population of nearly 45 million people.
“We believe New Jersey is an attractive long-term investment in business and we look forward to supporting the industry in the coming months and years as this steady pace of growth continues.”
Ascend Wellness Holdings opened its doors in Rochelle Park for recreational users for the first time yesterday but assured that its medical patients will remain a priority.
“Ascend Rochelle Park has served thousands of New Jersey medical patients since opening last year,” said Chris Melillo, Chief Revenue Officer of AWH. “Existing patients can rest assured that they remain a priority and will continue to enjoy our top-tier services without disruption as we welcome adult-use consumers to the New Jersey Ascend community.
“We are excited to serve all New Jersey cannabis consumers and look forward to commencing recreational sales in our other locations across the Garden State. We look forward to continuing to partner with the town of Rochelle Park and bring great jobs to this dynamic area.”
The Curaleaf dispensary in Bellmawr also began serving adult-use customers on Thursday, with its locations in Edgewater Park and Bordentown to quickly follow. With lines wrapping around the entire dispensary, Curaleaf estimates that it served upwards of 2,500 customers on the 22 April alone.
“It truly was a historic day in the state, with our first customer waiting in line starting at midnight on the 21 [April],” Joe Bayern, CEO of Curaleaf, told Cannabis Wealth. “This legalisation of recreational cannabis in NJ is a significant milestone that will increase access to cannabis, de-stigmatize the plant, and generate much-needed tax revenue, jobs and business opportunities for the communities most impacted by the war on drugs”
With a population of over nine million people and just thirteen dispensaries to serve them, New Jersey is set to face a huge spike in demand. Keeping shelves stocked is set to be a major “pinpoint” for cannabis dispensaries, Coniglio said.
To cope with the demand, New Jersey has so far awarded 37 conditional cultivation licenses and 70 conditional manufacturing licenses. A conditional license allows the holder, for a period of up to 165 days, to secure and obtain municipal approval of a site for the cannabis business.
In anticipation of increased demand, Curaleaf has tripled its cultivation capacity and, like Ascend, the company has stressed that the needs of its medical cannabis customers will remain a priority in the event of a product shortage. Despite concerns, Bayern said he is confident that its adult-use sales will continue “without interruption”.
The multi-state operator AUDACIOUS announced this week that the company was rewarded both a provisional cultivation licence and a provisional manufacturing license in the state. AUDACIOUS CEO Terry Booth said the successful licence application will play a key part in the company’s strategic expansion on the US East Coast.
“With projects underway in New York, Massachusetts and now New Jersey, our footprint is rapidly expanding in what we believe will be some of the most significant and profitable markets in the US,” Booth said. “We have more up our sleeve in the states mentioned, and we look forward to informing the market as we continue on our rapid growth trajectory.”
An important next step for New Jersey is its social equity programme which seeks to prioritise licence applications from people of colour, women, people with disabilities, people from economically-disadvantaged areas and those with previous cannabis convictions.
Industry players are also getting involved in the push for a fairer cannabis sector. Curaleaf, for example, has partnered with twelve social equity partners to help provide mentoring, raw materials and products for their businesses. Meanwhile, venture capital firm Vencanna has been working alongside community leaders and social equity-owned organisations to develop grassroots partnership initiatives.
These initiatives include the joint submission of cannabis business applications in newly opened jurisdictions like New Jersey. This week Vencanna announced that the New Jersey CRC awarded one of its community groups a Conditional Standard Tier III Cultivation License, with a canopy grow area up to 50,000 square feet, as well as a Conditional Standard Manufacturing License.
Charlotte’s Web full spectrum CBD passes novel foods validation
Charlotte’s Web is now the only vertically integrated US company with a full-spectrum hemp extract to have passed the UK novel foods validation phase.
Charlotte’s Web has passed validation in its FSA Novel Food applications for its original formula full-spectrum hemp extract product.
This marks a milestone for Charlotte’s Web, as it becomes the only vertically integrated US company with a full-spectrum hemp extract to have passed the UK novel foods validation phase. The product will now advance to the safety assessment phase. Charlotte’s Web said the approval uniquely positions the company in the growing UK CBD market.
Charlotte’s Web products are distributed in the UK by Savage Cabbage Ltd. Under the new Novel Foods regulatory framework, Savage Cabbage said it will leverage its extensive distribution network in the UK to expand the presence of Charlotte’s Web in retail distribution channels and on the high street. The company said that it is now preparing to expand distribution in the UK, EU and countries worldwide.
“Charlotte’s Web understands that product quality, safety, and brand values matter to global health seekers who are demanding premium full-spectrum products,” said Jacques Tortoroli, CEO of Charlotte’s Web, “It’s critical to scaffold these emerging markets with the high bar set by our proprietary hemp genetics, scientific rigour and innovation practices.
“International audiences are only now learning the difference between full-spectrum and isolate CBD products, which provides a great opportunity for education, product differentiation and consumer adoption as they begin to understand the health advantages inherent in full-spectrum products.”
Novel Foods are ingredients which have not been widely consumed by people in the UK or EU before May 1997. This includes cannabidiol (CBD) and other consumable derivatives of the hemp plant, including whole-plant hemp extract. Novel Foods needs to be authorised by the FSA before they can be included on the list of novel foods and marketed for sale.
In addition to its Novel Foods application, Charlotte’s Web is collaborating with The European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) which is part of the Secretariat Advisory Board (SAB), a European consortium of the UK’s and Europe’s leading CBD and hemp trade bodies and groups. The SAB is focused on encouraging the development of clear UK regulation for CBD that reflects evidence-based policy to safely serve the public and wider national interests engaged in public wellness.
According to the Brightfield Group, the UK CBD market has grown rapidly in recent years. The number of CBD consumers virtually doubling in 2019 to reach over 7 per cent of the adult population in 2020, representing sales of more than US$250m in 2020, growing to an estimated US $1.3b by 2025.
JM Wholesale sees 750 products included on FSA CBD list
The CBD stockist has described the development as a milestone for the company.
Following a partnership with the European Industrial Hemp Association (EIHA) and active participation with the Food Standards Agency (FSA), JM Wholesale has had more than 750 items included on the public CBD list.
Earlier this year the FSA published its list of CBD products linked to what it deems as credible Novel Food applications. Products included on the list will be advancing through the final stages towards authorisation, expected by 2023.
More than 900 applications for thousands of UK products have been submitted for approval, with the majority being rejected for lacking basic information such as toxicity levels.
JM Wholesale has announced that it has now had 750 of its products included on the public list.
Thomas Lowe, operations director at the Leicester-based company, said that, after 200 per cent business growth in the past 18 months and a resulting move to major new premises, JM Wholesale is now perfectly placed to consolidate its position as the UK’s premier CBD wholesaler.
Lowe commented: “We have a larger range of approved CBD products than any other distributor and this moment is another milestone for our company.
“We’ve worked hard to ensure that our customers and our business are protected, by getting rid of any products not published on the FSA’s website, regardless of how big those brands are.
“In fact we’ve always loved finding unique products, including those where the CBD can be absorbed in different ways. That way, more people from different walks of life can enjoy CBD no matter how they prefer to access it.
“From our distribution centre we now provide the largest range of isolate and full spectrum CBD products in the UK, all of which are 100 per cent accepted by the FSA.
“We are the first distributor to add the relevant Novel Food classification numbers to all of our relevant listed products.
“The past few months have been extremely challenging for our industry but we have made efforts to take an active role in the novel food submission process. We anticipated regulation of this industry, we were determined not to let it stand in the way of the growth of our business, and we’ve participated accordingly.
“All in all, this is excellent news for our customers and partners.”
The company has stated that it has experienced rapid growth off the back of increased awareness of the health benefits of CBD products in the UK, and that, alongside its consumer business, it also exports to suppliers in the UK and in 170 countries worldwide.
Halo Collective announces new chief executive officer
Current CEO Kiran Sidhu has resigned as the result of a mutual agreement between Mr Sidhu and the board of Halo.
Halo Collective Inc has promoted its president Katharyn Field to the position of chief executive officer.
Kathryn Field has been appointed chief executive officer of Halo replacing current CEO Kiran Sidhu. Ms Field takes the helm at Halo with nearly a decade of direct cannabis experience, including strategy, retail, corporate development, legal & regulatory and investor relations.
She first entered the cannabis industry in 2014 at Costa Farms, where she led the procurement, build-out and sale of one of five original vertically integrated companies in Florida.
She subsequently operated a strategy consulting practise focused on cannabis and also worked at MariMed as EVP of Corporate Development. She joined the Halo executive team in April 2019, serving initially as chief strategy officer, before moving onto the role of president in February 2020. She became a board member in July 2021.
“Halo is very well-positioned in the US West Coast cannabis space with a strong consumer brand portfolio and a loyal customer base. In particular, we have developed a valuable portfolio of California assets including wholesale and white label manufacturing as well as retail assets in Los Angeles,” said Ms Field.
“My initial focus will be on streamlining the organisation to establish a rationalised, focused business comprised of assets that create the most value and hold the most promise. While sales are down in California year over year, our business is up. Furthermore, our manufacturing business is profitable and the Budega stores are trending well.
“I’m confident that by prioritising near-term profitability and bolstering our growing retail presence, Halo will be able to scale from a position of strength, which is the best path to generate shareholder value.”
Mr. Sidhu’s departure was the result of a mutual agreement between the board of Halo and Mr Sidhu, and “reflected the board’s view that the company and Akanda – of which Halo owns approximately 40 percent – need to prioritise near-term profitability”. Mr Sidhu will provide consulting services to the company for six months to facilitate a smooth leadership transition.
“The Board believes the time is right for not only a change in leadership, but a change in strategy, and Katie has the right experience and capabilities to leverage the company’s valuable assets to create tangible and sustainable shareholder value,” commented Ryan Kunkel, Chair of the Board.