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Middle Awards License for Retail Cannabis Store

An artist’s rendering of Insa’s cannabis retail store in Middle Township.

By Vince Conti

COURT HOUSE – The Middle Township Committee has awarded a license to Insa Middle Township LLC to open a cannabis retail establishment in a former Wawa at Avalon Boulevard and Route 9.

The unanimous vote came at the Monday, Feb. 5, meeting of the township’s governing body.

Mayor Christopher Leusner said he saw no negative impact to the community from the establishment. Responding to security concerns raised by some members of the public at the meeting, he said he had looked into other areas where cannabis retail operations opened and found no evidence of any increase in crime.

Leusner added that the municipal tax on the sale of cannabis products will be a welcome revenue source for the township budget, benefiting all taxpayers. Under state law, towns that permit retail cannabis establishments can charge up to 2% per transaction as a municipal tax.

Insa Middle Township is a merger of Insa, a Massachusetts-based cannabis company, and Restore, a Pennsylvania and New Jersey company. Insa Middle Township was granted a conditional license by the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission on Dec. 17 and subsequently received a waiver of site plan requirements from the township’s Planning Board. It still needs approval for its annual retail license from the CRC. The company’s representatives said they hoped to have the store ready for business in late spring or early summer.

Insa began its relationship with Middle Township in 2021 with a plan for a cannabis medical dispensary and cultivation operation on Indian Trail Road. In October of that year the township provided Insa with a letter of support for its state license application.

Over time the company’s focus shifted to an adult-use dispensary; at one point there was discussion of a potential location in Rio Grande. Insa, alone or through its partnerships, operates cannabis dispensaries and cultivation facilities in several states.

Insa Middle Township has promised to meet conditions set by the Planning Board as part of that board’s approval. These include repairing the drainage system in the parking lot, bringing lighting up to code, doing appropriate landscaping and limiting signage to the sign footprint already in place on the property.

At the Township Committee meeting, Insa representatives outlined how the store would operate and how security would be maintained. An operations consultant for the company explained that every product is tracked through the entire cycle from manufacture to sale. He said the store would have a security officer on duty when the store was open.

Insa Attorney Joseph Kelley said the store will have an “Apple store” feel and would be a “fantastic facility.” He added that the company will probably end up spending $2.3 million before opening day.

The company’s security consultant noted that recent changes in the law will allow for credit card purchases, making the business less of a cash-intensive operation and lowering the security risks that come with any cannabis business in its early days.

Middle Township has an ordinance that allows for a second cannabis retail establishment, but the township recently announced it would pause consideration of applications for a time while it watches the implementations already underway. So far the county has one cannabis retail operation open, in West Cape May; two planned, one in North Cape May and Insa in Middle Township; and an additional potential establishment in Woodbine.

Contact the author, Vince Conti, at vconti@cmcherald.com.

Reporter

Vince Conti is a reporter for the Cape May County Herald.

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