Big cannabis is here: John Boehner partners with N.J. medical marijuana dispensary

By Susan K. Livio and Justin Zaremba |

Acreage Holdings, one of the nation’s largest cannabis cultivation, retail and real estate holding companies, is collaborating with a south Jersey medicinal marijuana dispensary to open and manage a 100,000-square-foot growing site in Gloucester County, NJ Advance Media has learned.

Compassionate Care Foundation of Egg Harbor Township also is seeking permission from the state Health Department to open dispensaries in Atlantic City, Cherry Hill and Moorestown, said David Knowlton, the dispensary’s founder.

Compassionate Care and Acreage Holdings have signed a letter of intent to enter into a long-term management contract to assist with future expansion and operations, according to a statement from both entities.

“We are excited about this new partnership with a company that understands the vital importance of making medicinal marijuana available to the New Jerseyans who desperately need this option to address their conditions,” Knowlton said in a statement.

“Acreage Holdings, as one of the most reputable operators in the country, if not the world, has the resources and experience to expand the operations of CCF to provide more access to medical marijuana for patients in need,” Knowlton’s statement said.

Acreage Holdings and Compassionate Care Foundation have settled on a 100,000 square-foot building in Sewell, an unincorporated community within Mantua Township, Knowlton said.

Acreage Holdings arrives as Gov. Phil Murphy has opened the door to a dramatic expansion of New Jersey’s medicinal marijuana program.

Since March, Murphy, a Democrat, has expanded the list of illnesses that qualify patients for the program, cut patient registration and renewal fees, and invited existing dispensaries to seek permission to expand of their growing and retail sites.

“Governor Murphy’s decision to expand the medical marijuana program in New Jersey should be applauded as the first step towards a well-regulated and effective cannabis program,” Kevin Murphy, Acreage Founder and CEO, said in a statement.

“The potential to help people who are facing serious health issues, as well as create revenue opportunities for the state, is truly a ‘win-win’ and we are pleased to have this opportunity to grow our presence there.”

There are 21,123 registered medical marijuana patients in the state, an increase of 2,567 since Murphy’s March 27th announcement.

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.

Those delays have not stopped cannabis entrepreneurs from exploring and negotiations deals in the Garden State, fueled by the assumption that it is just a matter of time before recreational marijuana is legalized. Until that happens, the expectation that the medical program will more than double within a year drives intense financial interest.

Acreage Holdings raised its profile dramatically last month when it announced former House Speaker John Boehner and former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld had joined to its Board of Advisors.

“While we come at this issue from different perspectives and track records, we both believe the time has come for serious consideration of a shift in federal marijuana policy,” Weld and Boehner said in a statement on April 11.

By collaborating with Compassionate Care Foundation, Acreage Holdings is now operating in 12 states.

Formerly known as High Street Capital Partners, Acreage Partners was founded in 2014, according to the company’s website. Acreage operates dispensaries and cultivation sites, manufactures edible products under its Dixie Brands holdings, and acquires and manages real estate holdings through its Kalyx Development division.

“We deeply believe in the transformational power that cannabis has to heal and change the world,” according to Acreage Holdings’ “vision” statement on its website.

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