VERONA — After a long impasse, the township and a medical marijuana dispensary have ended negotiations, meaning there will be no dispensary on Pompton Avenue.
GTI New Jersey reached out to the township in February seeking support for a dispensary in the former Chase Bank at 30 Pompton Avenue.
GTI New Jersey, also known as Green Thumb Industries, was the first of only six companies to be approved by the New Jersey Department of Health to operate “alternative treatment centers,” Paul Josephson, GTI New Jersey’s lawyer, said at a presentation in May. Its first dispensary was opened in Paterson in December 2019.
Devra Karlebach, CEO of GTI New Jersey, said GTI operates in 12 states, mostly in the Northeast, and has never had a compliance violation with any of the licenses that it owns.
New Jersey’s medical marijuana program has grown in the 10 years since the law was enacted to allow them, and dispensaries have struggled to keep up with demand. There are more than 70,000 medical marijuana patients in New Jersey with 2,700 caregivers and 1,100 doctors participating in the program, according to Department of Health statistics.
In order to proceed with a proposal, the state requires companies to receive support for a municipality as the first step.
The Essex County town began negotiations with GTI to see if they could reach agreement on terms, and discussions were on multiple township meeting agendas, but were pushed back again and again.
“After many hours of negotiations regarding the terms of GTI’s operations, the parties have been unable to reach an amicable agreement,” township officials said in a press release. “At this time, negotiations have ceased.”
Mayor Jack McEvoy said the discussion of the dispensary was “a spirited one” and one that evenly divided residents between support, being on the fence and being against it.
Verona resident MaryAnne Kenny Maher sent a letter to the Township Council in June in opposition to the dispensary, dubious of GTI’s intentions. Maher said when she spoke with her neighbors, she found they weren’t against adults using marijuana but were against their children being exposed to it.
She said GTI marketed some of its products with enticing names like “Jelly Belly” and said she doubted “they are doing this branding to stimulate the appetites of cancer patients.” In her letter, she indicated that she believes the marketing targets children.
During the presentation, Karlebach said people would only gain access to the dispensary with a medical marijuana identification card and a state photo ID, in addition to having a remaining quota of marijuana.
The township will not provide a letter of support to GTI and the township said “the matter is considered closed.”
Kaitlyn Kanzler covers Essex County for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.