County's first Marijuana store now open in Sussex Borough

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County's first Marijuana store now open in Sussex Borough

A shop in Sussex Plaza on the borough's Main Street has become the first retail cannabis shop in Sussex County.

Cannabis Clubhouse is not a place where you can smoke marijuana, but where you can legally purchase state-approved cannabis products, said Danielle Zill-Barry, owner and manager of the store located at 70-72 Main St., within the plaza.

The shop officially opened over the weekend and, according to the owner, offers "a full range of cannabis products, all fully licensed and lab tested," with more than a half-dozen "name brands" on the shelves.

Customers first go through a screening process when they enter the store, then can use touchscreen podiums to order.

The state legalized growing, manufacturing and sales of cannabis products in 2021, but the process of full background checks for anyone involved in those stages has put off opening of retail stores in the county until now.

While she is the first in Sussex County (there are about 30 operational statewide), Newton has also approved retail stores which are undergoing renovations, and there are open shops in Bergen, Passaic and Warren counties.

According to Zill-Barry, other than the kind of products being sold, there are also things customers will find different than a regular market, such as a limit on the number of people who are allowed in the shop at one time; only cash or debit cards can be used for purchases and no consumption or sampling of product in the store.

Zill-Berry has operated a store in that same location but selling CBD products. Those products are derived from the marijuana plant, however, CBD does not contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) the chemical in marijuana which creates the "high."  

She opened that shop in 2008 and said most of her customers have been local, although there have been some from New York.

She said it has been in a two-year-long process to obtain the local and state permissions and licenses, but "It's fantastic the (shop) is here."

Michael O'Leary, a consultant who worked with Zill-Barry through that process, said there are many rules set down by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, such as all product comes packaged and there is no consumption on the premises.

Zill-Barry said she hopes having a legal outlet will put several ongoing illegal sales activities. She named a couple of retail outlets where illegal marijuana is sold from "under the counter", and at least one mobile "shop" which moves around town.

The store offers discounts to different classes of customers, such as teachers, veterans, seniors and those with medical cards and is open Monday-Sunday.

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