Ascend to begin recreational cannabis sales in Fort Lee

Kimberly Redmond//November 16, 2022//

Ascend to begin recreational cannabis sales in Fort Lee

Kimberly Redmond//November 16, 2022//

Listen to this article

Ascend Wellness Holdings Inc. plans to launch adult-use cannabis sales at its dispensary in Fort Lee.

After the Fort Lee Planning Board memorialized its decision Nov. 14 to allow Ascend to begin operating as a cannabis retail establishment, the multistate operator announced it will start welcoming recreational-use customers Nov. 17 at its West Street shop.

Since opening the 3,400-square-foot dispensary in August, Ascend Fort Lee has served only medical cannabis patients while the company pursued the necessary state and local approvals to expand into retail cannabis.

Within New Jersey, 21 dispensaries are licensed to offer recreational cannabis, two of which are owned and operated by Ascend. The company’s locations in Montclair and Rochelle Park also offer medical cannabis.

During a Nov. 10 quarterly earnings call, Ascend reported that New Jersey has been the “leading growth driver” this year within the company’s Northeast region.

For the three months ending Sept. 30, Ascend saw a net revenue of $111.2 million, a 14.1% quarter-over-quarter increase, primarily due to a rise in third-party wholesale sales, the conversion of retail stores to adult-use and new store openings, the company said.

Total retail revenue in the third quarter was $82.8 million, a 9.6% increase compared with the prior quarter and driven by the full quarter benefit of adult-use sales at Rochelle Park, an adult-use conversion in Montclair and increases in same store sales, according to Ascend.

Gross wholesale revenue was $51.5 million, a 22.2% sequential increase, driven by growth in third-party sales increases in Illinois, New Jersey and Massachusetts, and intercompany sales increases in New Jersey, the company reported.

Frank Perullo, interim chief executive officer, president and co-founder, said, “Our Rochelle Park store continues to outperform and embodies the investment thesis for our business. Enter medical markets and then benefit from a significant sales multiplier when the business converts from medical to adult use. Our Montclair store was our second New Jersey store, opened its doors to adult use customers in August. The store’s in the heart of downtown and is off to a steady start.”

“Finally, our Fort Lee New Jersey store located just steps from the New York border with over 4,000 square feet of selling space, opened its doors to medical patients in August,” said Perullo, who added, “The team has been preparing and gearing up for the highly anticipated start of adult-use operations at New Jersey’s closest dispensary to New York City.”

During the third quarter, Ascend also expanded production to include edibles from its Franklin-based cultivation facility, which, Perullo said, gives the company “the full assortment of products and form factors throughout the state.” It also began offering Miss Grass, a premium pre-roll brand partner co-founded by a New Jersey native.

“The cannabis program in a state is in its infancy, but we are proud to be delivering such a robust product offering right off the bat. We set out to generate 50% of our retail sales from products that we produce so we can capture vertical margins and manage our supply chain. I am pleased to report that we have surpassed this goal in New Jersey. In addition to increased AWH manufactured product penetration, our third-party wholesale sales continued to build in the state and we now sell to 26 of the 28 dispensaries in New Jersey,” he said.

Ascend is also continuing its search for a chief executive officer and recently teamed up with Russell Reynolds Associates to lead the effort.