After a false start in early June, Ascend Wellness Holdings is determined to officially launch adult-use cannabis sales by the first weekend in August at its existing medical dispensary in Montclair Township, N.J.
The New York-based multistate operator (MSO) prematurely began serving adult-use customers at its North Jersey location during a 3 1/2-hour window on June 7—believing it had the green light to do so—only to be informed by township officials that the company was in violation of a zoning ordinance for the new clientele base.
Ascend officials submitted their conditional use permit application to Montclair regulators June 6—the day before the premature sales launch. Despite having state approval to expand their Montclair operation to adult use, they have been waiting for final approval at the municipal level ever since.
In a letter written to interim township attorney Paul Burr on July 26, Ascend’s general counsel, Douglas Fischer, warned that the company would take legal action if the Montclair licensing approval process is delayed further, Montclair Local reported.
“Ascend desires to continue to work collaboratively with the township to commence adult-use cannabis sales by the first weekend of August,” Fischer wrote in the letter. “However, please keep in mind that Ascend is a publicly traded company with duties to its shareholders and other stakeholders, all of whom rightfully expect that Ascend will commence adult-use cannabis sales in Montclair imminently.”
Fischer added, “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.”
The previous day, July 25, the Montclair Planning Board memorialized its approval of the conditional use permit for Ascend to expand to adult-use retail operations—the last hurdle in satisfying municipal requirements—but township officials still need to give final approval of the license application before Ascend’s adult-use sales can commence,
“The conditional approval permit is not the approval for them to start operating tomorrow—it’s the license,” township planner Janice Talley said at the board meeting. “So, it’s just a clarification that that’s what the municipal approval is that would be required for them to operate.”
While Ascend is eager to begin adult-use sales in Montclair, the MSO was one of seven companies that got the go-ahead from state regulators to begin serving adult-use customers on launch day (April 21)—534 days after New Jersey voters passed Question 1 to legalize adult-use cannabis in the November 2020 election.
Ascend began adult-use sales at its Rochelle Park location, off of Route 17 in North Jersey, that day.
On New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s (CRC) website, Ascend’s Montclair location was still listed as a medical-only dispensary when this article was published July 28.