Atlantic City Looks To Weed to Spark Up Economy – Part 2


Source: Press Of Atlantic City

There have already been multiple applications for cannabis businesses within the city’s Tourism District, according to Lance Landgraf, director of planning and development for the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA).

The CRDA serves as the planning authority in Atlantic City within the Tourism District. The authority board is set to review the Green Zone proposal at its Sept. 20 meeting, so it can endorse the plan before City Council’s public hearing. He said CRDA staff members like the plan.

“We support it. It’s something that the state has been very bullish on for Atlantic City,” Landgraf said after the meeting. “The city has looked at it as a potential economic development boost.” He praised the work redevelopment specialist Jim Rutala did on the plan, citing the inclusion of design standards and security requirements. On Tuesday, Planning Board members added requirements for air filtration systems that would mean no smell of cannabis could be detected outside, and stated that no cannabis products could be stored outside the properties.

There were four applications in August seeking use variances for cannabis businesses, Landgraf said. The applicants agreed to hold off until the council vote. If the zone is approved, the applications would only need site plan approval, rather than variances, which require a more stringent standard.

While the legal cannabis industry may appear inflation-proof at the consumer level, it is facing many of the same issues and problems of more established products.

Proposals include dispensaries and consumption lounges, which are allowable under New Jersey law. A company called Starboard Enterprises has submitted an application for a 125,000-square-foot facility at Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Atlantic Avenue, what is currently a vacant property.

Inside, the company plans to grow cannabis for the New Jersey market. “It could mean a lot of jobs,” Landgraf said.

“The adoption of the Green Zone Redevelopment Plan will allow for the strategic enhancement and diversification of the retail and tourism-based economy,” reads a summary of the Green Zone plan included with the planning documents. “The goal of the redevelopment plan is to increase economic development through the establishment of permitted classes of recreational cannabis and to recapture disposable income, sales and property taxes, development fees and employment opportunities for local residents.”

New Jersey voters strongly supported legalization in 2020. In February 2021, Gov. Phil Murphy signed three bills legalizing weed and assigning the task of creating regulations for the new market to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission. The Garden State had joined a growing number of states to allow cannabis possession and sales.

Advocates for the new industry project cannabis sales could eventually reach $2 billion a year in New Jersey. With the first legal sales beginning in April and only a few sites yet open, state officials reported close to $80 million in legal cannabis sales through the end of June, raising $4.6 million in taxes.

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Atlantic City Looks To Weed to Spark Up Economy