UPDATE: Court Gives Victory to Medical Cannabis in Hoboken

UPDATE: Terrapin Celebrates Victory for Medical Cannabis Transparency in Hoboken
Judge Agrees with Company That Harmony Must Submit to Hoboken Medical Cannabis Review

Exterior rendering of 86 River St. courtesy of MVMK Architecture & Design

**This story has been updated to include a quote from Harmony’s CEO Shaya Brodchandel

Terrapin today celebrated a win for the Hoboken community after a Hudson County Superior Court judge ruled that Harmony Foundation must submit to a review board before opening its doors.

Terrapin filed a lawsuit in September 2020 asking the court to weigh whether Harmony must offer transparency and accountability to the people of Hoboken before opening a medical marijuana dispensary in the city. City leaders carefully crafted Hoboken’s medical marijuana ordinance to ensure accountability through a Medical Cannabis Review Board. The Board weighs the merit of applications to ensure only the best actors open in the city. Harmony, however, attempted to circumvent the Board, claiming that they began the local licensing process before the Medical Cannabis Review Board had been established by ordinance in June 2020.

Hudson County Superior Court Judge Marybeth Rogers agreed with Terrapin on Thursday that Harmony should be held to the same review and accountability procedures as all other cannabis companies looking to establish operations in the city.

“The Court finds that the role of the Review Board and its function to protect public health is too important to be bypassed,” Judge Rogers stated in a clear written ruling.

“We’ve maintained all along that we were filing this lawsuit in the public health, safety and community interest of the people of Hoboken,” said Chris Woods, owner and founder of Terrapin. “It’s too important that we ensure only the best, most responsible companies as Hoboken launches its medical marijuana program. All interested parties should have to answer to the people of Hoboken, just as we will. The Review Board was established to bring accountability and transparency. If there’s nothing to hide, then all companies should welcome the opportunity to formally introduce themselves to the people of this city and answer any questions they may have.”

Following the Court’s ruling, Harmony CEO Shaya Brodchandel stated, “We are very happy with the Hudson County Superior Court’s decision, which ruled in our favor that the Hoboken planning board’s unanimous approval is intact and cannot be revoked. Per today’s ruling, our next step will be to work with the local Medical Cannabis Review Board. As a locally rooted company focused exclusively on New Jersey, we strive to make a positive impact in any community in which we operate. We very much look forward to meeting with the board and showing firsthand the positive impact we will bring to Hoboken.”

Terrapin is scheduled for an administrative hearing before the Review Board next Wednesday, March 31. In early September of last year, Terrapin announced plans to open a medical cannabis dispensary at 86 River Street following a three-year community outreach effort. Terrapin has filed paperwork with the city to move through local zoning boards. The Hoboken Medical Cannabis Review Board next week is the first step in the process before moving on to zoning.

“As an inter-generational resident of Hoboken with deep roots, I want to ensure that only the most qualified cannabis companies open their doors, and that when they do, they will have the best interests of the community in mind,” said Joseph Castelo, a local filmmaker and entrepreneur who is a partner on Terrapin’s Hoboken project. “Terrapin’s commitment to the local community is clear, and we would hope that all cannabis companies seeking entry to this city would place as high of a focus on leaving a positive impact.”

As part of its plans, Terrapin, a minority-owned company, has partnered with numerous local nonprofits to ensure a focus on social equity. Nonprofits and organizations Terrapin partnered with include:

  • WomenRising, a Jersey City-based nonprofit that assists women and families in North Jersey with counseling, economic development and advocacy. Terrapin has pledged to assist in creating an employment pipeline by connecting WomenRising alumni to potential employment opportunities within Terrapin. Terrapin also has pledged financial support to the organization.

  • Oasis, A Haven for Women and Children. The Paterson organization’s mission is to change the lives of women and children by breaking the cycle of poverty through compassionate programs designed to feed, clothe, educate and empower women and children in need. Terrapin will work on an employment pipeline with the organization, while providing volunteers in the form of directors to develop mentorships and training.

  • Project Help, a group dedicated to serving homeless veterans in northern New Jersey. The nonprofit has been able to expand services to include financial support and legal assistance. One initiative Terrapin has pledged to support is to assist veterans suffering from PTSD. There has been a strong nexus between medical cannabis legalization and assisting veterans, and Terrapin would like to see that momentum grow. Terrapin helped to launch VetForce in Pennsylvania, a security firm for the cannabis industry. Terrapin has plans to assist with a similar program in New Jersey where veterans run security for the cannabis industry.

  • Hudson Pride Center, the LGBTQ+ Community Center for Hudson County. Hudson Pride offers a variety of health, support and social services to the LGBTQ+ community. Hudson County has the largest LGBTQ+ population in the State of New Jersey and Terrapin has long stood as an ally to this community. We will work to educate the local community about the medical efficacy of cannabis, especially for conditions that might be relevant to the LGBTQ+ community, like anxiety and HIV/AIDS. Terrapin will also work with the group on a jobs pipeline.

  • United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW). Terrapin has entered into a Labor Peace Agreement with the Union to avoid labor disputes and to promote harmonious labor relations.

  • Social Equity Fair. Terrapin also has plans for a social equity job fair modeled after a similar event the company held in Michigan, where Terrapin provided resources to the BIPOC community seeking access to a new cannabis industry. Terrapin will host an informational session and resume-building workshop ahead of the job fair. Those who attend the informational session will receive valuable resume-building and interview tips to improve chances of employment.

“We’re very much looking forward to moving through the Review Board process,” Woods added. “We’re so excited about our plans to leave a permanent positive impact on Hoboken and the entire North Jersey community. We can’t wait to share our plans and excitement, and this Review Board offers us our first opportunity to do so.”

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About Terrapin 
Terrapin has plans to serve as a medical-focused provider of high-quality medical cannabis products in Hoboken, NJ. Founded in Boulder, Colorado in 2009 as Terrapin Care Station, the company has six storefronts on Colorado’s Front Range, and it is a medical marijuana grower/processor in Clinton County, Pa. The company recently opened a medical cultivation facility in Grand Rapids, Mich. With nearly 400 employees, Terrapin is a minority-owned business committed to equity and social justice. We plant local roots. For more information, visit Terrapin.co, or TerrapinCareStation.com.