WEST CAPE MAY – For Shore House Canna, all that is left is the waiting… and waiting… and waiting.
According to business owner Nicole Melchiorre, the business has been in the works for two-and-a-half years, but an opening date is just around the corner. Melchiorre and business partner Tom Nuscis are waiting for a final inspection of the property Aug. 8, and are hoping to get the go-ahead to begin selling cannabis products 30 days later, Sept. 8.
“It’s out of our control. I’ve heard of people getting their approval 45 to 60 days after their final inspection, but if we somehow get it in two weeks that would be great,” Melchiorre said.
Melchiorre said Shore House Canna was approved for its annual license in March. Since then, the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission has had them supply a business plan, a financial plan, a security plan, and a letter of approval from the municipal government. She said the inspector will come in and determine if what was outlined in the business plan will really happen.
Melchiorre said besides answering a lot of questions for the state government, the business has been trying to answer questions for the public, as well. There has been some local opposition to the opening of a retail cannabis operation in West Cape May. A referendum question prepared for the November 2022 ballot was not allowed due to a problem with the wording, but had, in effect, sought to ban cannabis sales in the borough.
“What I hear most is that people are afraid of what our clientele are going to be like,” Melchiorre said.
“They are going to look like you and me,” Nuscis said.
Nuscis said a lot of people, including his 80-year-old mother, have found that cannabis is an excellent sleeping aid, and there is no hangover in the morning. Nuscis, who is a disabled veteran, said people with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) find that cannabis is a good alternative to Xanax, which is habit-forming. Instead, some PTSD sufferers are using cannabis edibles. Nuscis said there is no evidence that THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, is addictive.
Melchiorre said the edibles that are approved for sale in New Jersey are called edible soft lozenges. So far, no retail business in New Jersey is approved for chocolates, cookies, or beverages. They will sell flowers (buds) – the leafy matter people generally smoke – and will provide concentrates and vape cartridges.
Melchiorre said after people are ID’d at the door (no one under 21 will be admitted), they will be allowed into a display room where there will be no actual cannabis. She said a display representing a selection of “pre-rolleds” for example, would contain no cannabis. All the cannabis will be kept in a secure location beyond the checkout counter, which Nuscis likened to a kitchen.
People will place an order for what they want and it will be assembled out of view of the public and passed to the employees working the checkouts through a pass-through port. The checkout employee will verify the order, check the customer’s ID a second time, complete the transaction, staple the bag, and hand it to the customer, who will then leave with his or her purchase.
“Some people were afraid customers were going to be consuming the product here and then wandering out into the neighborhoods,” Melchiorre said.
Nuscis said he asked a woman expressing this concern if she had ever gone to a liquor store. She told him she would buy a bottle of wine on occasion.
“I asked her if she opened the bottle and drank it in the store and she said no, she didn’t. It will be the same way here,” he said.
Currently, the owners are putting the finishing touches on the building and having signs made by local sign painter Brian DeMusz. Melchiorre said they can’t even order products until they get their state ID number. When they get inventory, it will be fed into an inventory system that will provide strict inventory control. Melchiorre said the state monitors all cannabis products from the time they are seeds until the time they are placed in the customers’ hands.
“There is a lot of security,” Melchiorre said.
Employees also go through strict evaluation and training. Melchiorre said all the employees will be fingerprinted and have background checks.
Melchiorre and Nuscis said the police have been helping them to make sure their business is as safe and secure as possible.
All the cannabis products will be grown in New Jersey, Melchiorre said. She said many of the suppliers have multistate operations, but the product has to be produced in New Jersey. The only exception is seeds. Plants are not allowed to be transported across state lines. Melchiorre said cannabis is still considered illegal at the federal level.
Melchiorre said out-of-state customers can buy cannabis products here, and use it in New Jersey, but they technically are not permitted to carry it home across state lines.
Contact the author, Christopher South, at email@example.com or 609-886-8600, ext. 128.