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Cannabis Rules Progress in Eatontown and Boonton as August 21st Deadline Looms

By Elliott Nguyen

Eatontown in Monmouth County and Boonton in Morris County have made progress on moving their cannabis rules allowing dispensaries ahead of the August 21st deadline. 

New Jersey’s cannabis legalization bill mandated that towns have six months from the bill’s signing, to decide their policy on cannabis, which makes it August 21st. If they don’t pass anything, they will have no control over what is allowed, which has led to many conservative towns banning all types. Other towns are opting for a temporary ban to wait for after the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) releases their deadlines the same day.

Boonton approved an ordinance to allow retail and wholesale in the township, and the former is set to vote on two versions of an ordinance that will allow retail, cultivation, wholesale, distribution, and manufacturing.

A growing number of towns are opting in to participate in the state’s legal cannabis industry, despite many that have banned such businesses.

Eatontown Amends First Ordinance

Eatontown’s council began working on an ordinance in May that would allow all the cannabis license types, except delivery headquarters. Their ordinance allows retail stores within its borders, “on Route 36, east of the intersection with Route 35 and on Route 35 south of the intersection with Route 36.”

The stores would also have to be at least “1,000 feet from a school on the same side or opposite of the street.” However, concern grew over the fact that it would only allow those stores on specific parts of Route 36.

“They are almost definitely going ahead with the zoning ordinance that allows a limited number of businesses on the state highway corridor there… and the other licenses in the industrial section of the municipality,” said cannabis activist and Eatontown resident Jeff King.

He has been working hard to build support for adult-use cannabis among the council.

The council introduced another ordinance that would allow stores on any part of Rt. 36. The council will vote on both ordinances with the primary ordinance vote tomorrow. The second ordinance will have a special meeting for a hearing on August 5th.

King expressed disappointment the council opted to exclude delivery from the classes of businesses that would be allowed.

“We have an existing medical dispensary already… they’re going to have manufacturing and cultivation. I don’t know what their logic is on excluding delivery licenses because we have neighboring towns, including Shrewsbury, that have complete bans that will need delivery,” said King. 

“It just doesn’t make sense. I don’t think it’s super important to the community or myself or anything, but I don’t understand why they’re concerned that that would be a problem,” he added.

King sees a double standard between cannabis and alcohol consumption.

“Right now there’s a ban on any kind of consumption allowed,” he said. Meanwhile, he said, “we have plenty of alcohol here in the borough… lots of bars with liquor licenses.”

“The ordinance would also require a private security guard to be funded by the dispensaries… I don’t see a security guard where they sell opiates and in the bars,” said King. “I’m not necessarily pushing for (the cannabis rules) to change and be more lenient, I just think it should be consistent if it’s important for the safety of the town.”

Eatontown already contains the satellite of Garden State Dispensary (DSD) medical dispensary within its borders. The town was the first in Monmouth County to have a medical dispensary. Roughly two-thirds of the town’s voters said “yes” to the cannabis question on last November’s ballot.

“The council was very friendly to the medical applicants in the 2019 round of licensing. This topic had already been discussed for medical (cannabis), and when the law passed the town was pretty open-minded for adult-use,” he noted.

Boonton Passes Cannabis Rules Allowing Retail and Wholesale

Boonton’s council voted on an ordinance that would allow only retail and wholesale cannabis businesses to open within the town’s borders while banning the other four classes. The ordinance passed 7-1 with Councilman Cyril Wekilsky, one of five Republicans on the council, as the lone dissenting vote.

(Is Cyril the only Republican?)

Retail and wholesale cannabis businesses would only be allowed to exist in the commercial zones on Myrtle Avenue.

The Council cited November’s ballot question as one of the reasons for its decision. Over 70 percent of voters in the town said “yes” to legalization.

TerrAscend is cultivating their medical cannabis currently in Boonton for their Apothecarium dispensaries.

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