Hoboken in Hudson County has approved an adult-use cannabis ordinance while Glen Rock in Bergen County studies it and Belmar in Monmouth County considers it.
In New Jersey, potential cannabis business applicants are looking for friendly towns to have their business. However, towns are forging ahead with absolutely no guidance from the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC).
Towns have until August 21st to decide what they want to do with cannabis. Those that want to take advantage of cannabis legalization need to approve an ordinance allowing as nearby Bayonne, NJ, already has. Others plan to ban it by then.
Unfortunately, the political process worked out such that the CRC is not in a position to advise pro-cannabis towns. So the only official guidance is from those who say it is better to wait and miss the 21st deadline.
The problem is the New Jersey cannabis community has been endlessly after every possible issue that could delay the process has indeed delayed it.
“The Commission will hear from municipalities at the June 1st public meeting and in written comments after. This will provide municipalities with several ways to weigh in directly with the Commission in advance of formal rules,” NJ CRC Executive Director Jeff Brown said in response to a request for guidance.
“Weighing in” is not guidance.
Hoboken Passes Cannabis Ordinance
The Hoboken Council approved a first reading of a cannabis ordinance that allows a dispensary within their limits. Their Planning Board will likely approve it on June 1st. The cannabis ordinance will then be approved for the second and final time by the Council in July.
Hoboken Cannabis Review Board attorney Ron Mondello explained the process by which they could allow adult-use cannabis dispensaries. He is a former Councilman from Bergen County and proclaimed himself a Deadhead.
Fifth Ward Councilman Phil Cohen noted the August 21st deadline does not leave towns a lot of time, given the slow pace of government.
“So, what I’d like to do is get a first reading done tonight so that it’s on the books, if it, in fact, it does get delayed in any way, we have a leg to stand on with the state to say ‘look, we started this process well before the 21st, we just have to refine something.’” Third Ward Councilman Mike Russo said. He sits on the cannabis review board and sponsored the cannabis ordinance.
“I think where there’s a little bit room for discussion for having a discussion is ‘do we regulate how many licenses we’re gonna have in the city?’ right? And that’s gonna be up to us,” he added.
They already have medical dispensaries in the works there.
Glen Rock Studies Cannabis
Glen Rock Mayor Kristine Morieko said they are setting up a commission like Princeton to study allowing a cannabis dispensary in town. Glen Rock is in Bergen County.
“I assure you,” Morieko said, “we are thinking of everything.”
The State “doesn’t have their stuff together” yet, Morieko said.
“There’s a lot of moving parts to this,” she added. The Glen Rock cannabis commission would likely be made up of city officials.
Councilman Jon Cole agreed with the idea that a business representative needed to be put on the committee while another member of the council didn’t like that idea.
“We don’t need anyone bringing in their fears,” Cole said. “We need people who are going to put in the work necessary” to set up regulations for sale.
Morieko is on the fence about doing that, though.
Hugh Giordano of the UFCW spoke during the public comment period. He lauded the council for agreeing to study the issue and noted Bayonne has a cannabis ordinance they could use to write their law.
“You need to allow this sale,” Jaime Van Sciver of the cannabis activist group Sativa Cross said. “You’re addicting people [to painkillers], rather than medicating them through natural means.”
According to the Asbury Park Press, 70 percent of the town voted for the cannabis referendum last Novemeber.
Belmar Considers Cannabis
Belmar, NJ, in Monmouth County is considering allowing a cannabis company within its limits.
Mayor Mark Walsifer brought up the issue on the advice of the town’s lawyer Jerry Dasti, who said that the borough has to make a plan.
They did ban cannabis smoking on town property at the same meeting. Since cigarette smoking is also frowned up, it’s understandable they don’t people to be annoyed by other types of smoke.
Councilman Thomas Brennan said he is a “long-time advocate of legalized cannabis” and has a medicinal card.
“I’m very much in favor,” Brennan added. “The residents of Belmar voted more than two to one in favor of the question.”
A few councilmembers were wary, though.
According to the Asbury Park Press, 68 percent of Belmar voted for legalization last year.
Belmar is a Democratic town. Their former Mayor, Matt Doherty, was appointed to the Casino Redevelopment Development Authority by Governor Phil Murphy (D).