Lawsuit Seeks to Block Hoboken’s First Medical Marijuana Dispensary

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Medical Dispensary Lawsuit Hoboken Harmony Rendering
A competing company filed suit looking to overturn Harmony’s approvals in Hoboken. Rendering courtesy of Nastasi Architects.

A company that’s looking to open their own dispensary wants to halt the launch of Hoboken’s first one, claiming in court documents that approvals granted to the initial marijuana shop sidestepped several laws.

After almost a year of back and forth, a new medical marijuana dispensary at 95 Hudson Street from Harmony Foundation was approved in August. The move came after the city established a Medical Cannabis Review Board and revamped a local ordinance to allow a total of three dispensaries throughout the city, subject to planning board review.

Terrapin Dispensary Planned 86 River Street Hoboken
Terrapin has proposed their facility about a block away from Harmony at 86 River Street. Rendering courtesy of MVMK Architecture.

Terrapin, who have proposed their facility about a block away at 86 River Street, filed a lawsuit on September 22 in Hudson county court looking to overturn Harmony’s approvals. Named in the case are Hoboken’s planning board, SBRE Realty Management, and Harmony Foundation.

The case claims that Harmony is attempting to circumvent the aforementioned cannabis ordinance, which Hoboken substantially amended in June 2020. The new regulations require the city’s Medical Cannabis Review Board evaluate any submitted site plan and provide a “favorable report,” something the suit says did not happen in Harmony’s case.

The lawsuit argues that Harmony, who submitted their application before the Medical Cannabis Review Board was established, should be required to go back to the board and obtain a favorable report before they open. If not, the case concludes that “Harmony would unfairly evade a crucial regulatory requirement with which other applicants must comply.”

Terrapin furthermore claims that Harmony did not have permission from the state’s Department of Health to operate in Hoboken when the planning board approved their application, which is another requirement under the city’s cannabis ordinance.

Harmony, according to the lawsuit, additionally “failed to demonstrate that the operation of a medical cannabis dispensary at the site would not negatively impact the public” and presented testimony during planning board hearings that was “unsupported by substantial evidence in the record.”

Terrapin wants the court to invalidate Harmony’s approvals and have the planning board reconsider the application, with spokesperson Peter Marcus telling Jersey Digs the company thinks Harmony is trying to dodge procedures that are spelled out clearly.

“We believe that Harmony is attempting to bypass the existing ordinance in Hoboken, which requires an accountability vetting process through the Medical Cannabis Review Board,” says Marcus. “The city was deliberate in requiring accountability through the board and Harmony is attempting to circumvent that process, which we feel is a disservice to the people of Hoboken.”

When contacted about the lawsuit, Harmony CEO Shaya Brodchandel told Jersey Digs that the company “looks forward to pursuing plans for our new medical cannabis dispensary as unanimously approved by the Hoboken Planning Board.” The dispensary had hoped to open their latest location before the end of this year.

A spokesperson for Hoboken said in an email that the city doesn’t have any official comment on the litigation.

Despite the lawsuit, Terrapin is hoping to kick off the local zoning process for their own dispensary during the next October meetings.

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