First Adult-Use Recreational Cannabis Store Opens In Franklin

OPEN FOR BUSINESS – James Betz of Princeton Junction and Najee Nasim of Franklin, (left to right) employees at Bloc in the Village Plaza, prepare for the next customer.

History was made in the township on March 12 when Bloc, Franklin’s first adult-use recreational cannabis shop, opened its doors.

Located in the Village Plaza, 1075 Easton Avenue, Bloc was already in operation for several months as a medical dispensary. It opened its adult-use recreational line just several days after its application to sell recreational cannabis was approved by the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission.

New Jersey is one of five states in which Bloc operates cannabis dispensaries and cultivation sites, Michigan, Utah, Pennsylvania and Missouri being the other four.

Bloc’s holding company, Justice Grown, was formed in 2014 by civil rights attorneys in Chicago who, according to their web site, “have spent their careers fighting for the rights of the wrongly convicted.”

Kayla Breiner, the store’s general manager, joined Bloc on Halloween, 2022, bringing with her about three years’ experience in the cannabis industry and a pre-med college education.

One of the things that attracted her to Bloc, Breiner said, was that the company’s CEO is a military veteran.

“I do come from a military family, so I value our veterans,” she said.

The Bloc philosophy is to build a sense of community, she said.

“We bring everyone together,” she said.

Theresa Adamson is Bloc’s district manager for New Jersey. She, too, has about 3.5 years in the cannabis industry, starting her career in high-end retail 35 years earlier.

“I ran big volume, big business, but I would never go back because I just love the people here,” she said.

The recreational and medical sides of the business pretty much offer the same products, Breiner said, although the store’s priority is serving the medical use patients. If they run out of a particular product on the medical side, they will quarantine it on the recreational side for medical use until the supply can be refreshed.

“We’re doing everything for the patients, they come first, but we also want to serve the adult use community,” she said.

The line of products offered by Bloc runs the gamut, Breiner said.

“We’ve got edibles … we have flower, we have hybrids, we have sativas, we have indicas, we have small bud flower, we have large bud flower, one-gram pre-rolls, two-packs of pre-rolls …” she said.

Sativa is a strain of cannabis that people use to keep them going, while indica is a strain that’s usually used to relax and fall asleep.

The pre-rolls are what they sound like, pre-rolled cannabis joints.

“I’m finding that here, edibles are flying off the shelf,” Adamson said.

Edibles cost about $30 for a package of 10, 10 milligram pieces. Three-and-a-half grams of cannabis costs $40, while a 7-pack of half-gram pre-rolls is $45.

“One thing about our pre-rolls that make us stand out … we use “B” buds, which is a sizing designation, and grind them up by hand to pack our pre-rolls,” Breiner said. “Other companies take all of the shake from any buds that are smaller than their smallest buds and pack them into their pre-rolls. That’s something I was so pleased to hear about, just based on my experience with other companies in the state.”

Right now, the store employs about 14 people, but Adamson said she will be adding to the roster.

“I have to because it’s picking up,” she said.

“I love our team,” Breiner said. “This is the most favorite job I’ve ever had. If you have that passion and drive, you can make a career for yourself in cannabis.”

Two Franklin residents who work at the store, Najee Nasim and Will Pelzer, said cannabis is their future.

Pelzer, a 2011 Franklin High School graduate, spent nine years in the Army as a military policemen after graduating and a year at Raritan Valley Community College.

When he got out of the Army, he said, he wanted to do something different.

Pelzer said his friend, Nasim, told him about Bloc and convinced him to apply.

“This is definitely something new,” he said. “The cannabis industry is booming, so it felt like the right time to get my foot in the door.”

One of the things that impressed Pelzer about the company, he said, was its CEO, who is also a military veteran.

“He gave me his information and said to call him if I had any trouble transitioning” into civilian life, Pelzer said.

“I love this company,” he said. “I like how personable the company is.”

Nasim said he came to the company with a background of being a medical cannabis patient.

“I always had what I thought was knowledge, but what I thought I knew … (shakes his head.)”

Nasim said the store has given him the opportunity to re-connect with old friends from Franklin.

“Just yesterday I saw people that I haven’t seen since high school,” he said.

Like Pelzer, Nasim sees himself in the industry for the long haul.

“After being here since October, I just see myself growing and continuing to get educated in the cannabis industry,” he said.

Bloc’s hours are 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sundays for medical patients and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays for adult-use recreational customers.

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