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by Dab Riga

TLEHL Unanimously Approved by Montclair Council

This year, Pi Day was a “high” day in Montclair, NJ! Late into the evening of March 14th, 2023, the local Council unanimously approved a resolution to award TLEHL a local license to be the first and only legal recreational cannabis manufacturer in town. We are thrilled at the prospect of operating in this beautiful, diverse community. While there were some hurdles, hassles, and hiccups along the way, we got there! Please join us in a quick victory lap.

This all started last year; TLEHL had been seeking a Northern NJ location in Essex or Passaic County for months. The real estate hunt was rife with pitfalls, from disapproving real estate agents, to disapproving landlords, to disapproving commercial mortgage lenders. One belligerent agent even uttered the phrase “I’d rather leave it vacant!” Finally, though, TLEHL found what seemed to be a good fit in Montclair: a small (800 square foot) but properly zoned location on Pine Street. TLEHL subsequently signed an LOI (Letter of Intent) in the last week of August 2022, with the aim of becoming a commercial tenant at that location.

Next, TLEHL turned our attention to the local application process, and found that Montclair had an application deadline of…the Friday of that same week, August 31st 2022! There was also the matter of the non-refundable $15,000 local application fee. This deadline was fast approaching, literally three business days after our LOI was agreed upon. TLEHL’s leadership quickly made the crucial decision to move forward, and scrambled with our legal and real estate teams to prepare a submission for local approval. TLEHL submitted our local application (and fee) just ahead of the 5PM deadline, literally at 4:20PM on that Friday afternoon, the day of the deadline. From then, it would be over six months that TLEHL would wait for a conclusion to this process.

Sadly, during that intervening time, lease negotiations on the 800 square foot facility fell through! TLEHL was suddenly in the situation of having applied for local approval in a municipality where it had no “green zone” real estate. This was a potentially dire situation; see for example “Challenges abound in New Jersey’s hot cannabis real estate market”, MJBizDaily, 9/17/21, and “Real Estate for New Jersey Cannabis Growers and Sellers Comes With Its Own Set of Challenges”, WBGO, 4/26/22, and “Difficulties remain for NJ’s cannabis industry”, NJBiz, 7/11/22, and “NJ Landlords Exploiting Cannabis Real Estate Rules and License Applicants”, HeadyNJ, 10/14/22.

Serendipitously, another availability in Montclair surfaced in early January 2023, and TLEHL now has a binding LOI for that location. The location change issue is the reason that our final resolution of local support is marked as “amended”: the initial resolution had the address of the 800 square foot facility! TLEHL took immediate measures to collaborate with local government representatives to rectify the error. The new location is about 2,000 square feet, and is a gut renovated space ready for a custom buildout for our manufacturing uses. It also comes with a much more supportive landlord and proper zoning, and we’re still on Pine Street!

Lastly, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Craig Wolff has written up a feature article about TLEHL, Montclair cannabis manufacturer wins council’s approval, published in the town’s newest weekly newspaper, Montclair Local. Check it out!