The battle between Montclair’s Ascend marijuana dispensary, and the town officials has seen a new round.
Ascend, which had been trying to get approval for recreational cannabis sales at its Bloomfield Avenue store for more than a decade, was threatened by Paul Burr, Montclair’s town attorney After it was approved, recreational sales were allowedOnly for a few minutes on June 9.
Douglas Fischer, Ascend’s attorney, returned the favor on Tuesday.
“If Ascend’s license is not issued despite its satisfaction of all conditions precedent, Ascend will have no choice but to pursue all available options, including but not limited to public engagement and legal action,”Fischer wrote to Paul Burr, interim Township Attorney.
Caitlin Fleischman, Ascend’s director of public affairs, expressed frustration with the Montclair continues to face obstacles to adult-use marijuana sales. The process began with an ordinance allowing recreational marijuana sales in August 2021. A long wait for a application form, a revised Ordinance, first and 2nd votes by the council on resolution of support and a conditional usage variance from the Planning Board.
The application form was submitted along with $30,000 fees to the municipality. The town approved the resolution May 17 and granted the conditional usage variance Monday.
Although it is not clear what is causing the delay, Ascend’s June refusal to open and the subsequent involvement from attorneys may have been factors.
Montclair was present at the forefront of the state’s new medical cannabis industryWhen it opened the Greenleaf Care Center medical dispensary, in 2012, it was Ascend purchased the property in 2021. It has now lost ground to RISE, a neighboring Bloomfield that opened adult-use marijuana sales on April 21. This was in addition to Maplewood’s Apothecarium as well Ascend’s Rochelle Park Dispensary. It was the first day it was legal to sell recreational marijuana.
“Adding recreational to a medical use should have been quick and painless,” Fleischman said. She estimates that Rochelle Park will see over $1 million in revenue the first year of adult-use marijuana sales, and that Montclair delays have cost the town. “hundreds of thousands of dollars”In revenue.
Montclair will charge 2% tax on all recreational cannabis sales.
Ascend Montclair temporarily sold recreational marijuana without approval on June 7. She said that company officials believed they had all the required approvals. Officials had told them that the long-awaited application would be available on Monday, June 6. When it didn’t, they decided to open. The form was uploaded to the site at 7 p.m. Monday.
Louis Cohen, Ascend’s general manger, apologized at the June 21 meeting to the council for opening without approval.
Councilor Peter Yacobellis remarked, “Their application is being reviewed by the respective departments and officials. They only received zoning approval on Monday night. We are working with them on various pieces with hopes of having resolution very soon.”