Multistate operator Item 9 Labs Corp. plans to open its first recreational cannabis dispensary in New Jersey.
In a Dec. 16 press release, the Phoenix, Ariz.-based company announced that its dispensary franchise, Unity Rd., is expanding its footprint with a new store in Franklin Township. In a Jan. 11 press release, Item 9 Labs Corp. said it will open the Somerset County dispensary during the first half of 2023.
The shop – Item 9 Lab Corp.’s fourth U.S. retail location – will be operated by Dishen Patel, who has received the necessary approvals from the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) and Franklin Township Council for recreational sale of cannabis at a storefront on Easton Avenue.
Item 9 Labs Corp. did not say when the Somerset County dispensary will begin welcoming customers.
In a statement, the company’s chief executive officer Mike Weinberger said, “Introducing our Unity Rd. brand to New Jersey represents another company milestone. Not only will we be entering a new cannabis market, but we are expanding our footprint in a high-population region that is increasingly supporting legalization.”
“We believe that as the New Jersey adult-use cannabis market continues to take off, the industry will reflect positively on the state’s economy and residents,” he went on. “With a population of approximately 8.8 million people and bustling metro areas like New York City and Philadelphia bordering the state, we anticipate the emerging cannabis market will become one of the largest on the East Coast.”
As part of an effort to expand across the Northeast region, while keeping ownership – and the wealth that comes along with it – local, the brand’s growth strategy involves working with interested entrepreneurs entering the cannabis industry as well as partnering with existing dispensary owners.
Patel is one of three entrepreneurial groups that signed agreements to develop Unity Rd. shops across New Jersey, which are currently in various stages of development, according to the company.
Referencing his experience in private equity investing, including several restaurant concepts with a franchise infrastructure, Patel said, “Because of this, I know exactly what to look for in a franchisor – the high level of support, education and training along with a strong infrastructure is a must.”
He added, “I’ve been anxiously waiting to enter the franchise industry officially as a franchisee, but have been selective – a lot of brands get it wrong. That said, I’m confident about this next move with Unity Rd. The potential with this brand and this industry is incredible. This shop is really just the first step of our journey with Unity Rd., we plan to expand throughout Jersey and beyond.”
Item 9 Labs Corp. has Unity Road locations in Boulder and North Denver, Colo.; Hartford, S.D.; and Quail Springs, Okla.
Editor’s note: This story was updated at 2:10 p.m. ET Jan. 12 to include more information about the estimated opening date.