Montclair NJ legal marijuana dispensary Ascend to open Friday –

Ascend, which operates a medical marijuana dispensary in Montclair, said late Tuesday evening that it will open for legal marijuana sales on Friday.

The announcement came after the town council meeting where a resolution to issue a retail license was approved. Also approved was a settlement agreement between Ascend and the town, apparently related to Ascend’s briefly opening for retail sales without the local license in June.

“We are thrilled to announce that we will begin adult-use sales at our Montclair store starting August 19th,” read the announcement emailed by Caitlin Fleishman, Ascend’s director of public affairs. “We look forward to serving our patients and customers and remain committed to building a partnership with the Township and bringing more union-paying jobs and tax dollars to the community.”

The process hasn’t been smooth. Ascend, which has been operating a medical dispensary on Bloomfield Avenue since February of 2021, began the process of gaining local and state approval last August, when the council voted to allow recreational sales in town.

The obstacles included what Ascend officials called a long wait for an application form, a revised ordinance, first and second votes by the council on a resolution of support, and a conditional use variance from the planning board.

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In June, Montclair town attorney Paul Burr threatened Ascend with legal action over the opening.

In July, Ascend’s attorney Douglas Fischer returned the favor, saying that if Ascend wasn’t issued a license, the company would “have no choice” but to pursue options that included legal action.

Montclair was the first municipality in New Jersey to allow a medical dispensary, the Greenleaf Compassion Center, which opened in 2012 and was bought by Ascend in 2021. The town was also one of the first to adopt a framework allowing for recreational dispensaries after the state legalized marijuana in 2021.

But when other dispensaries such as Ascend’s Rochelle Park dispensary and RISE in Bloomfield opened on April 21, the first day retail cannabis sales were allowed in New Jersey, it caused concern that customers were being lost in Montclair, along with revenue.

Montclair will collect 2% tax on all recreational marijuana sales.

Councilor Peter Yacobellis said that figuring out how to establish adult recreational cannabis responsibly in town has been a journey − developing a local ordinance and application process, along with evolving guidelines from the state’s cannabis regulatory commission.

“I can appreciate that this has taken a while and been frustrating to some,” he said. “That said, I’ll be happy when Ascend opens as the first official recreational license holder for Montclair, that residents will have this option downtown and that we can begin to realize some new tax revenue too.”


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