African American Businessman Perched to Open Marijuana Dispensary

Tracey Syphax

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, on Wednesday in Trenton, announced that the New Jersey Department of Health received 146 applications from 106 organizations to operate one of an additional six medical marijuana dispensaries in the Garden State—including one from prominent Trenton businessman Tracey Syphax.

The former drug dealer turned multi-millonaire entrepreneur and author formed a new business last month to cultivate, sell and manufacture marijuana—legally. The start up—Trenton Metro —will “grow pure cannabis varietals and hybrids in state-of-the-art facilities staffed by the worlds best horticulturists,” according to company marketing materials.” The new company will be based in Trenton and be included in Syphax’s existing business empire of Capitol City Contracting and the Phax Group.

In a recent interview, Syphax confirmed he filed an application with the New Jersey Department of Health to obtain a license to open and operate a medical marijuana dispensary. The move, if approved, will likely make him one of the first African American ex-felons to own and operate a New Jersey state mandated and regulated weed dispensary. Syphax hopes to nab one of the two licenses that will be issued to applicants in the central region of the state by the Department of Health (DOH).

“We put together an application that puts us in a strong position to be granted a license. The science is pretty much in on medical marijuana,” he said. For Syphax, 55, obtaining the coveted license would be a coup de grace’ of sorts, since it was only last December when he received clemency of his drug possession and distribution charges from former Republican Gov. Chris Christie. The pardon expunged Syphax’s criminal convictions stretching back to the 1980’s and 1990’s and eliminated perhaps the biggest obstacle for him to be granted the license and tap into the burgeoning and lucrative cannabis industry.

In July, Gov. Phil Murphy announced plans to expand patient access to medicinal marijuana by issuing licenses to at least six new applicants across the state in an effort to keep up with the increase in participation . The call generated hundreds of applicants and entrepreneurs to attend a meeting to discuss the pot dispensary application process in August hosted by the DOH. “We need more Alternative Treatment Centers to keep pace with the demand for a therapy that has been unjustly restricted for so long,” said DOH commissioner Shereef Elnahal. Elnahal added that participation in the state medical marijuana program has exceeded more than 30,000 patients.

Currently, the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes is allowed in 31 states and the District of Columbia. Recreational use of weed is permitted in 9 states and the District of Columbia—and several states, including New York and New Jersey are at the forefront of increasing the number.

Lastly, for Syphax, who was appointed to the Economic Development Committee in  Trenton in July, fostering economic growth through minority business enterprises (MBE’s) in Trenton and beyond is a personal mandate. “A successful business is built and operated on the management’s decision to demand outstanding results from everyone involved in the business,” he said. Syphax said Trenton Metro will employ upwards of 100 full time employees with a full salary and benefits.