Item 9 Labs Corp. announced that its dispensary franchise, Unity Rd., is expanding its footprint with a new store in Franklin Township in Somerset County, N.J. This marks the fourth U.S. state for the burgeoning cannabis retail brand, and it is anticipated to be the first location to open on the East Coast.
“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,” said Item 9 Labs Corp. CEO Mike Weinberger. “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.”
The local Unity Rd. shop owner, Dishen Patel, received approval from the state of New Jersey and the municipality of Franklin Township in Somerset County for a recreational business license. This approval is among the first licenses the state has awarded outside of existing medicinal cannabis businesses that were converted after the recreational sale of cannabis was legalized in New Jersey. The entrepreneur has deep experience in private equity investing in consumer-driven brands, including several restaurant concepts with a franchise infrastructure.
The company signed a licensing agreement with Patel as a vendor contractor, stating that Item 9 Labs Corp. will provide him with consulting services across real estate, licensing, compliance, operations, product procurement and marketing, among others. The company’s Unity Rd. team is aiding him through every step of the process of opening his cannabis retail store, setting him up to confidently operate a compliant cannabis business in his local community.
New Jersey’s recreational cannabis reform bills were signed into law on Feb. 22, 2021, and legal sales began on April 21, 2022. According to New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, recreational sales on the first day of operation reached nearly $1.9 million and rapidly increased to $80 million through the initial 10 weeks. The 2022 MJBizFactbook predicts the market will exceed $2 billion by 2026.
“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,” said Weinberger.
New York and Connecticut are expected to begin adult-use cannabis sales in 2023, and several other Northeastern states are poised to push reform forward. With the region representing over 16% of the U.S. population, increased legalization will be a significant growth driver for the cannabis industry.
Patel joins three additional entrepreneurial groups that have signed agreements with the company to develop Unity Rd. shops across New Jersey and are currently in various stages of development.