VINELAND – Columbia Care New Jersey, a state-approved medical marijuana grower and retailer, now expects its dispensary in Vineland to open early in the second quarter of 2020.
Columbia Care put out the estimate on Monday as part of a public “operational update in response to COVID-19.” The advisory also states it has “essential service” designation under New Jersey’s strategy to deal with the coronavirus.
Columbia Care did not respond to requests from The Daily Journal last week for information about its schedule. Vineland will be Columbia Care’s first site in the state.
Consumers may not see products until at least May, given average planting-harvest cycles and New Jersey Department of Health regulatory requirements.
The health department on Feb. 4 announced it had issued permits to begin growing marijuana to Columbia Care as well as two other companies elsewhere in the state.
Columbia Care is growing marijuana inside a converted industrial building at 1560 North West Boulevard in Vineland.
Jeff Brown, an assistant commissioner of the health department’s Division of Medicinal Marijuana, said it takes three to four months to go from planting to harvest to sales.
“It may be a little less, or a little more, depending on what types of strains they pick,” Brown said last week. “But that’s generally the timeline we’re looking at from when somebody gets a permit to cultivate to when they’re opening their doors on the dispensary.”
Brown said the three new companies were ready to start cultivation when the state issued them permits in February. “I would imagine it was within days from that point when they got either plants or seeds going,” he said.
State regulations state that samples of the harvested strains then need to undergo quality testing at a state laboratory, before they can end up on dispensary shelves.
A dispensary also may only sell products grown at its own facility in New Jersey.
“That’s because it is ‘federally’ illegal,” Brown said. “Once you start moving things across state lines, the federal government gets involved. So, that’s why everything’s got to be done with our borders.”
In Columbia Care’s case, it has only the Vineland grow site in New Jersey. It must wait for its first harvest to come in there, and then to pass laboratory tests, before it can stock its dispensary at 1062 N. Delsea Drive.
The dispensaries, too, must pass an inspection before opening.
Besides Columbia Care, the newest cultivation permits went to Verano, which is turning a vacant Walmart into a grow facility a dispensary in Elizabeth; and MPX NJ, which will grow in Pleasantville and sell in Atlantic City.
Brown said the division is excited about the new access for consumers as well as adding jobs.
“This a new industry to the region,” Brown said. “And it’s only poised to expand in the coming years.”
Joe Smith is a Philly native transplanted to South Jersey more than 30 years ago. He is a former editor and current senior staff writer at The Daily Journal in Vineland. Have a news tip? Reach out at (856) 563-5252 or firstname.lastname@example.org or follow me on Twitter, @jpsmith-dj. Help support local journalism with a subscription to The Daily Journal.
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