Clayton Free Press – October 2018




We heard from a hand-full of Clayton – and non-Clayton – readers (especially some on Facebook) that they disagree with our “position” on marijuana – and that we are obligated to “air all opinions” as a “Free Press”.

Some may not be aware, but as a private company – we are held to no such standard. We are not a municipality – like Clayton Borough – which is required by law to inform the public and be transparent in its dealings on behalf of the people who elect leaders to manage the public’s town.

Our readers receive the Clayton Free Press at no cost to them, and that is why we are “Free”.

We are not controlled by any politician, political party or philosophy – and that too is why we are Free.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees “Freedom of the Press” – understood to prevent the government from interfering with the distribution of information and opinions – and that is also why we are “Free”.

Remember – You would not have been aware of the Borough’s move to promote a marijuana plant in the heart of Clayton had it not been for freedom of the press – and the Clayton Free Press.

And now, YOU are free to read – or not read – the Clayton Free Press, in print, digital or on Facebook. Regardless of your choice, we are here now to keep you informed.

Welcome to America.

Publishers and Editors, Clayton Free Press





Residents – Not Council – Confront the Issue

Clayton’s Borough Council meeting of September 13th drew a large, anxious and sometimes angry crowd of residents who gathered to learn more about why their elected officials supported a Canadian-based marijuana company’s move to set up shop within 3,000 feet of the facility in which they were meeting – the newly built $7 million Performing Arts Auditorium at the Clayton High and Middle-Schools.

Community interest rose last month when this publication – and only this publication – announced that the Borough’s elected officials issued a Letter of Support encouraging the State Health Department to grant Green Thumb Industries, Inc. (“GTI”) a permit to build and operate a marijuana growing, processing and distribution facility on Cenco Boulevard. – if and when marijuana legalization passes the Legislature.

Because of the community’s concern about that action and the possible consequences of having the facility in Clayton, Borough officials moved the meeting’s venue from the Borough Hall to the Performing Arts Auditorium.

Borough officials invited GTI representatives to give a presentation, which the Borough quickly posted immediately after the meeting to Clayton’s official taxpayer-funded website.

At the outset of the GTI portion of the meeting, Borough Solicitor Timothy Scaffidi announced that “the news you received in this paper (the Clayton Free Press) was all lies”, and that GTI was there to “set the record straight”. He also announces that, because the Borough had been notified that it might be sued by homeowners, the Council would not respond to any questions posed by residents.

Council members quickly left the stage as Devra Karlebach, Chief Executive Officer of GTI New Jersey, LLC began a slide show presentation. At several points during her presentation, she was interrupted by residents who wanted to ask questions – or question the accuracy of the statements she made. At one point, she announced that home values actually rise when a marijuana growing facility comes to town, drawing jeers from audience members.

After GTI’s presentation, Borough Council returned to the stage as more than a dozen of the more than 200 attending residents lined up to ask questions – which would not be answered by Borough representatives. When asked by one resident if GTI would still build the facility if the State does not pass legislation to permit recreational marijuana, Scaffidi responded “no”, before GTI representatives could answer. One resident asked if GTI planned to set up a dispensary as part of their operation on Cenco Boulevard, to which Karlebach responded “we have no plans at this time, but if the Borough asks us to, we would consider it.”. One resident pointed out that their presentation included a line item listing “75 new jobs being created as part of their retail operations”. GTI did not comment. According to the New Jersey Health Department’s website, “applicants would be required to operate a dispensary as well as cultivating and manufacturing facilities”.

Other visitors voiced their opinions – mostly against the operation being situated where it was planned, but some voicing support for GTI because they felt that “medical marijuana was helpful in combating many illnesses”. Other residents asked that the facility be built using American steel, while another pointed out that the older people living next door to the facility “pay no taxes” and that GTI would bring in jobs and taxes to the Borough.

As a matter of record, the residents bordering the industrial park do pay taxes – and the tax revenue
anticipated from the GTI facility is estimated “at approximately $84,000”, according to one statement made by Bianco at the September 27th meeting. That’s equal to less than the salary and benefits of a single police officer, according to Borough records.

When asked by a resident if they would receive answers to the questions they posed, Scaffidi said bluntly – “no”. and ended the meeting.

You can read our October 2018 issue below:


You can also read our September 2018 issue below:

PS. Please don’t forget to visit, like and follow us on Facebook!    |

CLAYTON FREE PRESS – New Jersey Free Press, LLC
P.O. Box 201, Clayton, NJ 08312
(856) 243-2499





As the State Legislature continues to debate legalizing “recreational marijuana”, the fate of medical weed – and the patients who use it – is uncertain. One leading State Legislator
already announced to the Politico newspaper in August that “the (New Jersey) Legislature won’t expand access to medical marijuana without legalizing cannabis statewide”.

According to the New Jersey Department of Health, they received 146 applications from 106 organizations to operate medical marijuana dispensaries in the state. Applicants would be required to operate a dispensary as well as cultivating and manufacturing facilities* which means that GTI will be required by law to operate a dispensary – the question is where.

The next question is – what happens IF Green Thumb Industries (“GTI New Jersey LLC – most likely changing its name to “Rise New Jersey”, as they did in Massachusetts) is selected to own and operate a medical marijuana facility in Clayton – but Recreational Weed does not pass?

We reached out (again) to Linda Marsicano, Vice President of Communications for the parent company in Chicago, as well as to Devra Karlebach, CEO of GTI New Jersey LLC, and are awaiting word if GTI would still build its growing, processing and distribution facility on Cenco Boulevard if they could not grow and distribute recreational weed.

In the mean time, two leading “medical marijuana” growers are pushing aggressively to expand their production capability within less than 13 miles from downtown Clayton, and both expect to significantly increase their production capability over the next 12 months.

Until a law is passed by the State, and a license is awarded, the fate of Clayton Cannabis is adrift – like smoke in the wind – while anxious area home and business owners line up to participate in litigation aimed at protecting their economic interests.

We’ll let you know what we learn.

* You can learn more by going to:



September 30, 2018

Ms. Linda Marsicano, Vice President of Communications
Green Thumb Industries, Inc.
325 N LaSalle Drive #412
Chicago, IL 60654

Ms. Devra Karlebach, Chief Executive Officer
GTI New Jersey, LLC
C/O: Harvey C. Johnson, Esquire
1940 Route 70 East
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003

Dear Ms. Marsicano and Ms. Karlebach,

As a community newspaper serving the Borough of Clayton, Gloucester County, New Jersey, we would appreciate an opportunity to conduct a telephone interview with you about your planned facility in Clayton.

Prior to our September newspaper publication, we attempted to contact Ms. Marsicano on several occasions both through your corporate office and on Ms. Marsicano’s mobile number with no response. Hopefully, we can receive the same courtesy as you granted another Delaware Valley newspaper which is not located in your planned business municipality.
During our interview, we would appreciate your response to the following questions:

  1. Assuming GTI New Jersey, LLC (”GTI NJ”) is granted a Medical Cannabis and Distribution Permit from the New Jersey Department of Health, if “Recreational Marijuana” legislation is not passed in NJ, is it your intent to build your facility in Clayton regardless, and if so, when would such construction begin?
  2. According to the New Jersey Department of Health website, “applicants would be required to operate a dispensary as well as cultivating and manufacturing facilities*” if granted a license. In your presentation posted on the Clayton Borough website, you note that you will create 75 jobs in retail. Where do you propose to open your Dispensary facility?
  3. How will product be distributed from your facility to your buyers? Will customers pick up from your plant and/or will you deliver, and based upon your current business model and forecasts, please advise as to the estimated traffic to be generated from your facility daily when reaching capacity.
  4. Has GTI NJ or its parent entered into agreement to purchase or lease the proposed property on which it plans to construct its facility in Clayton? Further, have you identified a site in or around Clayton yet where you would locate your first Dispensary?
  5. Have any employees, investors, owners and/or representatives of your parent or New Jersey company made any campaign contributions to any candidate, cause or political party in Clayton, New Jersey, Gloucester County, or the State of New Jersey? If so, to whom were donations made, in what amounts, on what dates and by whom?

Thank you and we look forward to your response.

Publisher, Clayton Free Press

Clayton Free Press
New Jersey Free Press LLC
P.O. Box 201
Clayton, NJ 08312

Tel: +1 856 243 2499



(Seriously, We did not make this up!)

The Clayton Police Department announced another marijuana-related arrest in the Borough, just two weeks after a Council meeting to discuss the future of marijuana in Clayton.

On September 27th the Clayton Police Department executed a search warrant on the 500 block of Coleman Dr. after conducting a short narcotics investigation. During the search two large marijuana plants were located growing in the defendant’s back yard. In addition, two sandwich bags containing suspected marijuana under 50 grams was located inside the residence.

Ranard R. Watson, a 34 year old male was arrested and charged. He also had three unrelated traffic warrants for his arrest. Watson was charged with possession under 50 grams of marijuana and possession of drug paraphernalia, and was released on a summons to appear in Elk Joint Municipal Court.

Clayton Police Det. Jackson Harrington, Sgt. John Dick and a member from the Gloucester County Prosecutor’s Office Guns, Gangs and Narcotics Task Force assisted in the investigation.


How to contact your Borough Elected Officials

All of the following can be reached through the Borough switchboard, at: 856-881-2882

Email contacts:

  • Mayor Tom Bianco –
  • Council President Tony Saban –
  • Councilman Charles Simon –
  • Councilwoman Darlene Vondran –
  • Councilman Frank Brown –
  • Councilwoman Vonzora (Vonnie) Jackson –
  • Councilman Frank Rollo –


Last updated October 1, 2018