Atlantic City Recreational Cannabis Lounge Near Boardwalk Casinos Gains Approval

A proposed Atlantic City cannabis dispensary and consumption lounge near the Boardwalk has gained site plan approval from the New Jersey Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA).

Atlantic City cannabis marijuana weed New Jersey
An artist’s rendering of the “High Rollers Dispensary” proposed for The Claridge hotel in Atlantic City. The dispensary would face Pacific Ave. at S. Indiana Ave. (Image: Agri-Kind)

The CRDA’s mission is to facilitate economic and community development with revenue that’s predominantly funded by the nine casinos in town.

The authority oversees land-use planning inside the Atlantic City Tourism District, which encompasses the immediate areas surrounding the city’s nine casino resorts. The district additionally includes Bader Field, the Atlantic City Convention Center grounds, and the Marina District.

The CRDA last week signed off on an array of projects, with one being the “High Rollers Dispensary,” a recreational cannabis dispensary and lounge near the Boardwalk.

The proposed 10,000-square-foot retail business is to occupy part of the first and second floors of The Claridge, a nongaming hotel near the Boardwalk. Because The Claridge isn’t directly on the Boardwalk, but is instead set back behind the Korean War Memorial and Brighton Park, the location doesn’t violate the CRDA’s rules that recreational cannabis facilities do not directly touch the Boardwalk.

Agri-Kind, a Pennsylvania-based cannabis cultivator and dispenser, is behind the High Rollers Dispensary.

Atlantic City Weed Zone

New Jersey voters legalized recreational marijuana during a 2020 referendum. Recreational cannabis dispensaries are open across the Garden State, but only one has opened near Atlantic City — The Botanist in Egg Harbor Township.

Along with The Botanist, two medicinal-only dispensaries are open in Atlantic City proper — another Botanist location on the Boardwalk and another called MPX NJ along New York Ave.

The CRDA wants to keep the Boardwalk free of recreational cannabis dispensaries and lounges. The authority instead wants to locate those facilities in its so-called “Green Zone” behind Pacific Ave.

The “Green Zone” runs from Boston Ave. between Pacific and Atlantic avenues north to Maryland Ave.

Federal laws prevent commercial casinos from directly engaging in any form of the cannabis industry. With cannabis remaining a Schedule 1 narcotic on the federal level, casinos and cannabis cannot mix. State gaming laws require that gaming properties adhere to all federal regulations and banking laws.

State Approval Still Needed

New Jersey is still finalizing its rules on consumption lounges, which are places where recreational and medicinal users can purchase and consume THC-laced products.

With its site plan approved by the CRDA, the owners behind the “High Rollers Dispensary” will need to obtain a consumption lounge permit from the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission once it begins fielding applications later this year.

Though Atlantic City’s casinos and cannabis facilities cannot intermix, the High Rollers Dispensary development certainly is appealing to gamblers with its play on words. The facility, should it gain a state license, would also be located in what was once a casino.

The Claridge opened in 1930 as a casino and hotel. The 400-room property was acquired by adjacent Bally’s in 2000 and became a standalone hotel tower and boutique casino for the Boardwalk resort.

Gaming terminated at The Ridge, as it’s affectionately known in town, in 2012. The hotel was sold the following year by the former Caesars Entertainment to a Florida-based real estate firm called TJM Properties.

TJM owned the shuttered Atlantic Club Casino Hotel further south down the Boardwalk from May 2014 until it found a buyer in the deteriorating building in 2019. A New York real estate investment firm called Colosseo Development Group is planning to turn the former commercial casino into a luxury condominium tower.   

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