Jul 17, 2023

Atlantic City is opening its first marijuana retail shop

ATLANTIC CITY — Cannabis retail culture will finally arrive in the seaside casino resort on Thursday, a year after New Jersey legalized adult-use marijuana.

Mayor Marty Small Sr. signed what he called a "historic business license" granting MPX NJ the right to sell recreational marijuana from their storefront on New York Avenue, just next to the city's equally pioneering independent coffee shop, Hay Day Coffee, in the historic and newly renovated Bywater Building.

"This is the first dispensary to open in Atlantic City, and what better way than to open it on the marijuana holiday," Small said, referring to 4/20.

» READ MORE: Everything you need to know about weed in New Jersey and Pennsylvania

Janine Ratliff, MPX general manager, said the store will open at 11 a.m. on Thursday, with discounts, and stay open until 8 p.m.

The block, part of the Orange Loop, is being developed by partners Evan Sanchez and Zenith Shah, who first envisioned transforming the long-neglected area into Atlantic City's newest entertainment district.

Small said the New York Avenue building is a temporary location for MPX, which is looking to move into a larger three-story space a block over on St. James Place in September.

Kashawn "Kash" McKinley, the city's marijuana czar and one of five members on its cannabis review board, said the opening was another sign of the city diversifying its offerings.

"It's safe, it's clean, and we have things to do for all people," McKinley said. "This is just another platform that Atlantic City can be proud of."

MPX NJ is the first in what's expected to be a robust cannabis culture in Atlantic City, with several consumption lounges in the works, and some now medical-only shops on the verge of converting to adult-use recreational. A "Green Zone," has been established running on Atlantic and Pacific Avenues from Boston to Maryland Avenues and including the Orange Loop.

Those include two in the Claridge building: Design 710, which opened April 14th as a medical facility, and the High Rollers Dispensary, which is touting a summer opening with a consumption lounge just off the Boardwalk. The Atlantic City Council passed an ordinance prohibiting adult-use marijuana shops on the Boardwalk, leaving the Botanist on the Boardwalk as medical only.

The company behind High Rollers is also licensed to build a cultivation facility on a vacant tract of land on Martin Luther King Boulevard near Arctic Avenue in Atlantic City.

» READ MORE: A marijuana lounge is headed for an Atlantic City hotel just off the Boardwalk

On New York Avenue, MPX NJ will join a lively entertainment, restaurant, and bar scene near Tennessee Avenue, including the Tennessee Avenue Beer Hall, Bar 32, and Rhythm and Spirits, and the Leadership Studio, a yoga and community gathering spot.

One change this year is that the former Bourré New Orleans-themed restaurant and music venue is transforming into Cardinal, a restaurant and bar from Chef Michael Brennan, who previously owned Cardinal Bistro in Ventnor.

Small noted that the city would enforce its Boardwalk prohibition against marijuana sales and was sensitive to concerns from families that visit the city. But he noted that MPX pays $25,000 a year for its license and has committed to $750,000 in contributions to city organizations, and that all sales will include a 2% sales tax that will benefit the city's taxpayers.