New Jersey Cultivation Cap Expired, But Real Estate Issues Remain

New Jersey’s cannabis legalization law initially went into effect in 2021 with a cultivator cap set at 37 licenses. Adult-use sales launched in April 2022, but at the time only seven cultivators were licensed to supply cannabis 13 dispensaries across the state. Last month, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) allowed the cap to expire on Feb. 22.

“The market is developing, and we don’t want to hinder that. The New Jersey canopy is currently only 418,000 square feet—far below the average of other states with legal cannabis,” said Commissioner Maria Del Cid-Kosso. “New Jersey currently has only one cultivation license for every 197,000 residents. The national average is one license for every 31,000 residents. We have a lot of room to grow. We expect that lifting the cap will open the space for more cultivators, ultimately resulting in more favorable pricing and better access for patients and other consumers.”

As of March 2, the CRC has granted licenses to 17 operational cultivation facilities. But even with the cultivation license cap change, many New Jersey municipalities have opted out of adult-use cannabis. One year ago, the Ashbury Park Press reported that nearly 400 towns had opted out of being home to any cannabis businesses. The co-founder and president of New Jersey-based Premium Genetics, Darrin Chandler Jr., told MJBizDaily that finding potential real estate opportunities is “almost impossible,” and described prices as “astronomical.”

On the patient side, New Jersey is still the only state with a medical cannabis program that does not allow patients to grow at home. In the past, many bills have been introduced to permit home cultivation to allow medical cannabis patients to grow for personal use. Bill S342, which is sponsored by Sen. Troy Singleton and Sen. Vin Gopal, would allow patients to cultivate at home. However, a report from Politico states that opposition from Senate President Nick Scutari is a significant roadblock for the bill.

New Jersey’s industry is continuing to attract outside cannabis businesses. Brands such as Al Harrington’s Viola products are expanding into the state this month, starting on March 24 at RISE dispensaries. According to Harrington, he wants to expand his brand to support the local community. “I want to make sure that we are educating our community and empowering them with knowledge to understand the cannabis plant and the benefits that come from it,” Harrington told Business Insider.

Similarly, Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan is preparing to open Hashtoria Cannabis Lounge in Newark, New Jersey as well. “Getting excited yall!!! @hashstoria coming to the brick city !!!!! This is going to be flyest consumption lounge to hit the east coast. This will be monumental ! All hail to the mighty green ! Be strong, be wise and be the best version of you!!! #newjersey #cannabis #hashstoria” Raekwon recently wrote on Instagram.

Recently, the CRC held a public comment period to discuss its draft rules for cannabis consumption rules, which ends on March 18. This includes restrictions for on-site food sales, but permits food to be delivered or brought in from outside, and prohibition of tobacco and alcohol sales on-site.

In late February, the New Jersey Attorney General released an updated drug testing policy for law enforcement. Under the new revision, law enforcement officers will only be drug tested if they appear intoxicated at work. “Agencies must undertake drug testing when there is reasonable suspicion to believe a law enforcement officer is engaged in the illegal use of a controlled dangerous substance, or is under the influence of a controlled dangerous substance, including unregulated marijuana, or cannabis during work hours.”

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Raekwon To Open Hashstoria Cannabis Lounge in Newark, New Jersey

Raekwon, aka Raekwon the Chef of Wu-Tang Clan, will open a Hashstoria dispensary and cannabis lounge on Broad Street in Newark, New Jersey. The new location will be housed in a historic building in the core of Newark’s Four Corners District located downtown.

Co-founded by Raekwon, Hashstoria is a top-rated brand collective and dispensary chain focused on quality and the consumer experience. Raekwon’s Compliments of the Chef line sold at Hashstoria features merch and clothing representing his values and the flavorful selections he finds. 

Hashstoria dispensary chain, a combination of the words “hashish” and “Astoria” in Oregon. (Astoria is where The Goonies was filmed.) Locations are open in Gladstone and Springfield in Oregon as well. The fourth dispensary location and lounge will open in Newark. 

The historic location’s history stretches back to 1839—once housing one of the oldest clothiers in New Jersey. It’s located across the Street from Prudential Center and Indigo Hotel, and walking distance to Newark Penn Station and Mulberry Commons.

Jersey Digs, providing real estate and development news, first reported that the lounge is slated to open in March. RHG Architecture + Design was hired by Hashstoria and came before Newark’s Landmark and Historic Preservation Commission recently to present plans for facade renovations. 

The application was approved unanimously by the Landmark and Historic Preservation Commission.

The four-story building is an aging landmark in the Four Corners Historic District with lots of character and potential—however “ornamentations” on the first two floors of the building were mostly destroyed over the past several decades.

“There’s been a lot of change over time with this building,” Rachael Grochowski, principal of RHG Architecture + Design told Jersey Digs. “We’re going to have community art in the window that will be changeable. The existing window frames will be painted black to freshen them up and really stand out and coordinate with the signage.”

Developers plan to restore the facade using the same type of bricks used in the remnants of the historic building, along with new windows and headers.

Some commission members initially expressed hesitation with the dispensary and lounge plans, but approved of the latest proposals when a few improvements were made. “I think it looks a whole lot better than what you presented before and I applaud you for it,” Commissioner Richard Grossklaus said.

Wu-Tang Clan members are very familiar with Newark, given they film large chunks of the biopic Wu-Tang: An American Saga in downtown Newark and the South Ward. Raekwon was photographed taking hits from a blunt with Method Man in the August 1996 issue of High Times, one of many appearances. Raekwon also got involved with NBA Hall of Famer Chris Webber‘s cannabis brand Players Only with his business partner, Lavetta Willis, joining Quavo, Royce da 5’9″, Matt Barnes, and Jason Williams.

New Jersey’s market is younger than Oregon’s, where the brand first launched.

New Jersey recently became the latest state to allow on-site cannabis consumption, after the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission moved to allow patrons to consume cannabis where it is sold in certain licensed locations. This makes it possible for Hashstoria to open its fourth location in Newark. The company’s website lists a March opening date.

Last November, New Jersey voters approved Public Question 1, ending a three-year effort to approve adult-use cannabis in the state. New Jersey was one of four states—along with Arizona, Montana and South Dakota—to approve an adult-use cannabis bill on election night in 2022.

Check out the dispensary plans on the Hashstoria website.

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Chris Webber Launches New Strains With ‘Players Only’

NBA Hall of Famer Chris Webber announced the launch of his cannabis brand Players Only with his business partner, Lavetta Willis—and he’s bringing several familiar faces along for the ride including Quavo, Raekwon, Royce da 5’9″, Matt Barnes, and Jason Williams.

The new all-star brand was first announced on August 11. Players Only will feature an array of strains, cannabis oil cartridges, pre-rolls, vapes, as well as sport recovery and performance products. Players Only will also roll out branded apparel and footwear.

Last March, TerrAscend secured exclusive retail rights for Players Only products in Michigan through the acquisition of Gage Growth Corp, securing the way for the brand to drop.

“Players Only is more than a cannabis brand—it’s a lifestyle brand,” Webber said. “We truly have a unique opportunity to change the narrative around cannabis, empower rising entrepreneurs and set a new standard in this growing industry. We’re thrilled to launch our versatile offerings and begin the process of creating meaningful economic change in communities across Michigan. Shout out to TerrAscend and Gage—our Michigan family. Much love to Cookies and Berner, let’s go!”

In October of last year, Webber unveiled a cannabis facility in Detroit complete with a cultivation facility, dispensary, and private consumption lounge. The 180,000 square foot Players Only facility was named the Webber Wellness Compound.

The first strains to roll out include C4, Time Out, and G.O.A.T.’s Milk, as well as Non-Laters and Whipped Cherries. Later on, the brand will roll out additional strains including Blueberry Hotcakes and Ray Jackson’s Black Sox within weeks. While C4 can give off a hashy, Afghani-like appeal, G.O.A.T.’s Milk leans more sativa with a balanced amount of THC and CBD, according to reviewers. Whipped Cherries, on the other hand, tastes exactly how you’d expect it to.

“We have been working with legacy cultivators and operators seeking to establish their place in the regulated market for quite some time,” said Lavetta Willis, co-founder and President of Players Only. “The opportunity to incorporate legacy strains and expertise into the Players Only platform and menu furthers our goal of uplifting black entrepreneurs who have been building brands and intellectual properties for decades.”

The brand also announced a partnership with Raekwon from Wu-Tang Clan to launch Compliments of the Chef and his partnership with Citizen Grown. Another collaboration involves Hassim Robinson and Winner’s Circle Genetics, to bring the PB&J strain as well as Quavo’s BIRKINZ to Michigan’s cannabis market. Detroit’s legacy brand “Lil Stupid” will also launch for the first time in the adult-use market while Detroit’s own Royce da 5’9″ will roll-out his “Heaven” brand as part of an NFT. Webber’s former Sacramento Kings teammate Jason Williams will also unveil the White Chocolate strain.

Webber recently appointed Matt Barnes, former NBA star and teammate, as Chief Collaborations Officer while launching “The Smoke” with his partner and co-host, Stephen Jackson. The offering’s name is a nod to Barnes’ and Jackson’s award-winning SHOWTIME series, “All The Smoke.”

The “All the Smoke” podcast features “the brash and unapologetic NBA champions, delivers authentic, unfiltered perspective on the most polarizing topics in and around the game of basketball, including culture, social justice, politics, music and more.”

Episodes of “All the Smoke” drop each Thursday.

The launch of the brand will kick off with a limited edition brand collaboration with the Players Only x Packwoods 2.5-gram Blunt, which will be available in select stores. Learn more at the Players Only website.

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Getting High With Griselda

Once upon a time in 2016, I received a call from DJ Green Lantern. While Green and I talk quite frequently, rather than speaking in his usual unenergetic tone, there was a touch of excitement in his voice this time. He went on to tell me about an artist named Westside Gunn with a crew called Griselda from Buffalo, NY. As Green and I now reminisce on those days, he remembers, “My boy DJ Chris G from my hometown of Rochester, NY was posting about and playing Griselda music and it caught my ear. I loved it—that grimy fly shit. I haven’t stopped listening since.”

From that moment on, I dove into the Griselda catalog expeditiously. Primarily, Westside Gunn’s Fly God was my introduction, and honestly I was completely blown away. At the same time, Green was working on The Hitler on Steroids mixtape. This was a way to introduce new fans like me to some original preexisting material, which shed even more light on these phenomenal Griselda artists that included names like Conway The Machine and Benny The Butcher. Their mystique and grit was evident, and it had fans like me yearning for more.

As a brand new superfan, I peeped Green was going to DJ their first tour, “Griselda On Steroids,” and the first stop was Webster Hall in NYC. That was the night where hip-hop heroes Styles P and Jadakiss of The Lox, Raekwon of Wu-Tang, and the late great Prodigy of Mobb Deep passed the torch to the next generation. After making my way backstage, I was somehow a fly on the wall in a room full of rap giants, and I mean literally, look!

Courtesy of Seth Zaplin

Beyond all of that, Griselda was truly doing something different by keeping it pure, gritty, and grimy while the rest of the country was doing TikToks and designer drugs. Westside Gunn, Conway The Machine, and Benny The Butcher have been raising the bar with bars… and also maybe smoking a little weed. Well, okay, lots of weed. As Green Lantern recalls it, “Pretty much everyone in the group is a smoker, so it’s blunts for breakfast, lunch, and dinner—gas only. Gotta medicate correctly out here. That’s the first stop when we pull up to the next city—gotta get right for the night.”

Courtesy of Siena Saba

Now with some years of success under their belt, I went and caught Griselda’s most recent NYC concert, as part of their “Claire’s Back” tour. What a show! Westside Gunn opened with his classic records and then eventually introduced two artists named Stove God Cooks and Rome Streetz: the next generation of Griselda Records. Then came actual wrestlers beating each other up on stage for what ended up being quite an unexpectedly entertaining break in the program. Griselda artist Armani Caesar smoothed things up after the antics, bringing out Benny The Butcher to perform a record she and him have together. Ultimately, Benny then showcased his BSF crew and rocked a couple of joints with his comrades Ricky Hyde and Heem. Benny also brought out 38 Spesh, who had one the most crowd-pleasing moments while performing his record with Benny.

Courtesy of Siena Saba

It all set the tone nicely for Conway The Machine, who smashed his set to close things out. He introduced his Drumwork affiliates with a few records, but then they really put a ribbon over it all with a very impressive grand finale of the trio (Conway, Benny, and Gunn) performing “DR BIRDS” off of their Shady Records debut. It felt like all of New York City screamed, “Tell Virgil Write ‘Brick’ on My Brick!”

Courtesy of Siena Saba

Did I catch an amazing rap show? Sure. However, my job was far from done, way before the first bar was even spit. I went there to get super baked with Conway The Machine and Benny The Butcher. After the show, that’s exactly what I did, and here is how it went down: As the custom Astor Club pre-rolls were being passed around, Benny grabbed his Gucci lighter and we began to sesh…

Courtesy of Siena Saba

What is one of your first real memories of getting high back in Buffalo?

I can’t lie, I’ve done a lot of high shit. Remember when you first start smoking, you get the giggles, right? Well I was 14 and paranoid, plus I lived in a dangerous neighborhood. So one night, I was going to the store, and on my way back, I swore the leaves were chasing me! [laughs]

Okay, talk to me about strains, Benny. What are you really smoking on?

I love some of these strains that have been around a second, like I love Gary Payton. I still smoke London Pound Cake, I fuck with the Original Z, and I like the Gumbo strains. But other than that, I smoke Big Rappers First Choice. I smoke the Butcher’s Breath and Buffalato because both of those are real gas.

[In comes Conway to join the interview]

Courtesy of Siena Saba

Okay, Conway The Machine. I know this machine runs off gas, so let us know about it.

Yeah, I like my strain, La Machina, but also Lemon Cherry Gelato. I like strains that taste good but still be crazy potent, giving you that couch-lock shit. I wanna get cooked when I smoke one.

Can you recall the early days when you didn’t have a lot of weed to smoke?

Man that’s been awhile. I might knock a fiend out, take his money, and go straight to the weed house. But, the last thing I want to do is get stoned and goofy. I smoke to relax and get inside my mind—I’m a thinker. So, when I get stoned, I get creative. I smoke all day. I wake up, bake up, and the only time I’m not stoned is when I’m asleep.

Well, needless to say, it was an epic time watching these very high emcees do what they do best at the highest level. Unfortunately for the readers now checking this out, the “Claire’s Back” tour has concluded. With that said, we should all make it our business to turn summer 2022’s Drumwork Fest into a rap Woodstock. Meet me there, and prepare to be Strain Checked.

https://www.tixr.com/groups/buffalowaterfront/events/seneca-casinos-concert-drumwork-fest-44445

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