The plodding process to grant Montclair licenses in the expanding cannabis industry received a push forward this week when the Township Council gave its approval to a fledgling cultivation company, Genuine Grow.

A unanimous vote on a resolution of support at the council’s meeting on Tuesday, April 25, granted the conditional license to the company, putting it firmly on a path to become the single legal cannabis grower in Montclair. Genuine Grow, having surmounted a number of bureaucratic obstacles – including getting approval from the Planning Board in February – has a couple of more procedural steps left. The company has a conditional license from New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission, and is now in position to receive a full annual license from the state –  considered pro forma at this point. Then the process will ricochet back to Montclair for final licensing from the township.

As soon as the vote was completed, a whoop went up from the gallery, where Genuine Grow’s 27-year-old owner, Andrew Marshall, was sitting, wearing a white T-shirt emblazoned with a double-shadowed “G” — the outfit’s logo. The back of the shirt read, “Made In Montclair.”

The idea to create the business sprung for him when the state legalized the sale of recreational cannabis in 2020. In August of 2021, Montclair announced it would allow three cannabis retail operations, one cultivator and one manufacturer to set up shop in the town. Last August, applicants submitted their paperwork along with a $15,000 fee.

“Now, eight months later, here I am with a resolution,” Marshall said, clutching a copy as if it were treasured parchment.

He was asked to compare the moment to other milestones, including perhaps a graduation.

“Better,” he said. “This is one of the best nights of my life.”

His mother, Diane, sat nearby, beaming.

An alumnus of Montclair High School, Marshall has already secured space in an old, brick industrial building at 154 Pine St. Also in the building will be Ray Riga, whose company was cleared by the council last month. That would smooth operations for the two companies and the area, which is a mixed-use zone. Fewer vans and trucks would be needed to convey the products. The grand opening is unlikely to happen before Jan. 1, Marshall said, as he awaits word from the state commission and meanwhile builds out the workspace.

Marshall has said he finds inspiration in his younger brother, David, who is high on the autism spectrum. Marshall intends, he said, to employ a number of people with autism.