For Tara Sargente and her team, Thursday’s mandatory pre-application conference with 800 people packed into the theater at The War Memorial in Trenton was both heartening and sobering.
“It’s great to see that level of interest in the program, at the same time there’s some great competition in the room as well,” says Sargente, owner of Blazin’ Bakery and a member of a group applying for one of six medical marijuana permits the New Jersey Department of Health will issue later this year.
NJ Cannabis Media is being provided an exclusive inside look at the application process during the team’s month-long journey from the application release on Aug. 1 to the 5 p.m. Aug. 31 deadline when all materials must be submitted.
“I didn’t need to see that room to know this was going to be a tough fight,” Sargente says. “We’re still going to give it our best and I think we do have a good shot.”
For Sargente’s team, and every other applicant, that shot comes down to submitting an application that earns as many of the 1,000 scored points as possible and follows all the intricacies and guidelines required by the Department of Health.
“I thought it was a very thorough presentation,” says Sargente, who will be a panelist at NJ Cannabis Media’s inaugural NJ Cannabis Summit on Oct. 24.
Two of the questions her team had submitted in advance were answered by Jeff Brown, the Department of Health’s assistant commissioner, including:
“Something I was curious about was that two of the questions referenced NJAC 8:64 which is the medical marijuana rules and some of them are in conflict with Executive Order 6. Namely for me, I was concerned about edibles. Were they going to allow it?”
Brown said the department “will consider medicinal products that fall outside the current rules.”
“I had been prepping my application just along the lines of lozenges and topicals which is all we’re currently approved for,” Sargente says. “I’m still going to go in with those products but I’m also going to introduce a more robust product line, which is exciting.”
The past week has been a busy one for the team.
“The networking phase of the application is pretty much closed. Whoever’s in it is what we have,” Sargente says. “Now it’s writing it, getting the supporting documentation.”
That means starting to fill the four binders they have set up in an office at a law firm with financial disclosure statements and other technical papers, including zoning papers and maps. She expects there to be close to 1,000 pages by the time its complete.
The application is divided up between two essential parts:
- Permit Application Part A, which contains all the required information about the business entity that is applying for a permit to operate an Alternative Treatment Center.
- Permit Application Part B, which contains the scored criteria.
Sargente and her team are working on both, but are trying to complete Part A first. It’s as Brown described at the meeting, “the pass-fail” portion of the application.
Then it’s onto Part B and the narrative – telling the story of why an applicant should be chosen.
With time at a premium, Sargente has imposed an early deadline to have the application done: Aug. 24. “We want to have a nice window to make sure everything’s right and also provide time if we have to fix anything.”
For Sargente, it’s time to put her nose to the grindstone.
“This is what August will be. No events, nothing else,” she says. “You’ll see me again in September, hopefully with a smile on my face.”