New Jersey’s Busiest Weed Dispensary Wants To Build Largest Greenhouse On East Coast

Photo Credit: AP File Photo

New Jersey’s busiest medical marijuana dispensary appears to be ready to get even busier.

Curaleaf, formerly known as Compassionate Sciences, opened a new retail location across the street from its existing location in Bellmawr last month and has entered the planning stage for a 100,000-square-foot, indoor growing facility on a remediated landfill here near an intersection of interstates 295 and 76, company and borough officials said. The new facility would be about the size of two football fields.

“We’re reviewing environmental design for potentially the largest greenhouse on the East Coast,” George Schidlovsky, president of Curaleaf New Jersey said Friday. “We are working in lockstep with the governor’s office, the Department of Health, the Legislature and municipality to provide the largest variety of cannabis products and the largest selection in the state.”

Curaleaf was the first of six dispensaries in the state to get permission to expand its operation. Gov. Phil Murphy won election in November on a platform to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use. But those plans have stalled amid resistance from the state Legislature, including members of his own party.

“We have nine sales stations designed to process 1,000 patients a day,” Schidlovsky said. “We can do 100 new patient consultations a day and we’re designed to provide the largest access to the most affordable products and designed for future expansion.”

Part of Curaleaf’s recipe for success so far seems to be good relations with the borough of Bellmawr.

“I took a beating when they opened up,” Bellmawr Mayor Frank Filipek said this week. “But they’ve lived up to everything they said they would do. They’ve been a real good corporate citizen. I haven’t had one complaint, not one.”

Murphy has already approved several common conditions to be treated with cannabis, and the program is adding around 100 people every day, according to the Health Department. It now has more than 23,200 patients and has added about 5,000 patients this year.

Curaleaf served 6,358 patients, with 76,406 transactions and 2,302 pounds of product dispensed in 2017, according to a state Department of Health annual report released in April. The next closest facility for pounds sold among six other dispensaries was Breakwater in Cranberry with 1,001 pounds distributed, according to the report.

Schidlovsky said his company has spent over $20 million in Bellmawr since it opened its doors in 2015 hiring local construction teams and employees to manage the renovations.

“These jobs and investments become economic drivers that stimulate a responsible, compliant and sustainable industry that helps residents improve their quality of life,” a statement from Curaleaf said.

The proposed greenhouse would be located on a remediated landfill the borough has been trying to redevelop for the past 10 years. One key selling point for the land is it sits near an intersection of key roads including I-295 and is expected to be tied into the state Department of Transportation’s mega Direct Connect project when it is finally completed, officials said.

It will be Curaleaf’s second growing facility here. The greenhouses are off limits to the public, video monitored 24-hours a day by the state and can only be entered by authorized company employees.

Filipek said he has already seen an uptick in the occupancy in the industrial park in which Curaleaf is located.

“We were at about 25 percent occupancy here a few years ago,” Filipek said. “Now with Curaleaf, WB Mason and Amoroso’s bread company we’re doing much better.”