How do you get to 1,000 points?
That’s what every applicant for one of the six permits for an Alternative Treatment Center is trying to reach when they submit their application to the New Jersey Department of Health at 5 p.m. Aug. 31.
Part B of the application – the scored portion – is comprised of three criterion, each with its own measures (which require a single PDF document submission) and questions (which require either 250- or 500-word responses).
The section dealing with “cultivation, manufacturing and dispensary operations” is worth the most points – 300 in total – and the portion on “market diversification” is worth the least – 25.
For Troy Kaplan, who writes applications for a living and is working with two groups for this round, it’s about putting together a cohesive story.
“It’s what you’re graded on against other applicants,” says Kaplan, whose work has won licenses in 14 states and the District of Columbia over the past decade. “Big picture – you want to write for your audience. You want to put yourself in their shoes and try to visualize what they want to see. The response to that exercise will tell you the kinds of stories you should be telling, the way you should position your team and also what team you want to put together.”
Jeff Brown, the assistant commissioner for the Department of Health in charge of the medicinal marijuana program, tried to break it down to the basics at a mandatory meeting of applicants in Trenton on Aug. 9.
“No. 1 we’re looking at the ability to meet the overall health and safety needs of qualified patients and ensure the safety of the public,” he said.
How you do that will require answering sections such as this (with the point totals attached):
Measure 4: Financial Suitability and Sustainability up to 100 points
In addition to the required ATC Entity Disclosure and Personal History Disclosures, applicants shall provide:
• A brief summary (no more than 5 pages) of the applicant’s business plan including a budget and projected expenses and revenues for at least a 5-year time period. (25 points)
• Evidence of sufficient access to capital to support the proposed Alternative Treatment Center. (25 points)
• Certified financial statements (audited or reviewed) in accordance with applicable standards by an independent certified public accountant, which include a balance sheet, income statement, and statement of cash flow, and all applicable notes for the most recent calendar or fiscal year. (25 points)
• Record of past business taxes paid to federal, state and local governments. (25 points)
For Lee Vartan, an attorney at Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC, the advice he’s giving to clients is to shoot for 1,050 points.
“I’m telling everyone we’re dealing with to pretend that there’s going to be some group put out there that’s going to be at 1,000 points. They’ve been working on this for a year. So anything you know going in that’s going to be less than that – that you can control, you should try to control,” he says.
Beth Stavola, chief operating officer of MPX Bioceutical Corporation, a public company with dispensaries and production facilities in four states, says, “Writing one of these applications is one the hardest things I’ve ever done in business.”
John Fanburg, co-chair of the Cannabis Law Group at Brach Eicheler, says, “What I’m telling people is, you want to collect as many points as humanly possible. That’s who you’re going to be stacked up against. You don’t want to lose this thing because you were two points short.”