The Bayonne City Council agreed that they would vote on new legal cannabis revisions next week when they set the agenda during their caucus.
They are prepared to vote on the first reading of two cannabis ordinances on August 17th: one to establish which zones where cannabis businesses aren’t permitted and another to establish terms of license and license renewals, disciplinary actions, sanctions, and penalties.
They previously amended their initial cannabis ordinance in April, lowering fees and restricting the number of licenses granted.
Law Director Jay Coffey said the zoning measure limits cannabis companies to the highway development zone around Route 440. He also pointed out that cannabis license applicants for an annual license need to file for one with the municipality first before going to the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
“But they didn’t tell the municipalities what they had to do. We’re proceeding a pace with our local legislation to comport with the state’s rollout, but the state’s rollout has been anything but pure,” Coffey explained.
Bayonne was one of the first towns in New Jersey to pass a local cannabis legalization implementation law. Coffey noted the initial license application fees were indeed significant.
“That didn’t happen organically. That came from lobbyists. Big companies don’t want it so that it’s $2,000 to make an application. They want it to be $200,000, so you knock out the five of us, and some rich guys get the license. That’s the real world,” he said.
Additionally, Coffey was unsure how much money cannabis could generate to justify having more dispensaries in the city.
He noted that while Bayonne is only allowing two dispensaries overall in a relatively small district, many towns like Union City and Weehawken aren’t allowing any.
“The decision was by the council to not have cannabis in the Broadway district. That’s something that could change over time,” Coffey said, noting concerns that long lines could disrupt other businesses,” he said.
“The State of New Jersey is making it up as they go along. The legislators did a horrible job of rolling out cannabis. I’m a proponent of the legalization of pot,” Coffey said.
He noted the Bayonne Cannabis Review has not been seated or met yet.
“Once we get this squared away, it’s more likely to meet,” Coffey said.
According to the ordinance passed in April, the Review Board will have three members: the mayor or his designee, a council member designated by the governing body, and the public safety director or his designee. They will all serve out a four-year term concurrent with the mayor.
“There’s going to be growing pains with this thing, and it will change over time,” he added.