A Jersey City cannabis license cap for dispensaries and other companies is being planned by the Council. It is likely to pass on Wednesday.
This has been in the works for some time. Initially, a six-month moratorium was going to be imposed starting last week.
They want to address distance and prioritization issues and the many licenses that have been issued.
Distance issues have come up across New Jersey.
It would end the Jersey City Cannabis Control Board (CCB) meetings approving new dispensaries. Once it passes, the resolution must be reviewed by the Planning Board and re-approved by the Council.
The proposed resolution would only permit 48 dispensaries or 8 per ward. Jersey City has six city council ward districts lettered A through F.
They are also capping cannabis consumption lounges at 12 or 2 per ward.
Most cities in legalized weed states have no consumption lounges.
Jersey City would also impose a license cap of 3 cultivators, three manufacturers, 3 Wholesalers, and 3 Distributors operating in the city. None of these applications have come up before the CCB. Moreover, none are likely due to the high cost of real estate in Jersey City.
The new Jersey City cannabis law would not affect companies approved by the CCB seeking Planning Board approval and, ultimately, the City Council resolution necessary to open.
Jersey City Cannabis Council Discussion
Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh noted that the resolution would request that the Jersey City Planning Board study the issue and make a recommendation to the Council within 35 days of its passage.
Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey wanted to move forward with the revised Jersey City cannabis license cap law.
“This is the smaller part of the larger changes we’re looking at,” she noted.
Ward E Councilman James Solomon was curious about who exactly would be exempted.
“I believe it’s grandfathering anyone who has already gone through the process,” Saleh noted.
Jersey City Business Administrator John Metro said Jersey City Commerce Director Maynard Woodson and the Planning Department would send a memo clarifying the issue before the formal Council meeting on Wednesday, where the revised Jersey City cannabis license law would be adopted.
“There are some wards that would be over that number. It will now go for the future. They have to get their re-approvals and whatnot. If they’ve gotten approval, they’re exempt from it. Anything new or coming up on that would not be,” At Large Councilwoman Amy DeGise noted.
It would grandfather all CCB-approved Jersey City cannabis companies into the process. The CCB has approved 53 dispensaries.
Seventeen dispensaries have dots on the approved Jersey City cannabis dispensary map.
A cap of 48 with 53 dispensaries exempted would be 101 dispensaries. A cap of 48 dispensaries with 17 exempted would be 65 dispensaries. There are 36 Jersey City cannabis companies with CCB approval but no City Council resolution. They would likely be approved. That would leave 12 more slots that could be filled.
Proposed Local Cannabis Licensing Requirements
The new Jersey City cannabis license resolution would impose many qualifications on those seeking them.
The Council is very eager to end the many distance controversies that have arisen. The CCB would have a more formal qualification process that likely would have included a few exempted Jersey City cannabis dispensaries.
The new criteria includes:
“a. Community impact, outreach, input;
b. Whether the applicant’s proposed location serves an area of need in the City;
c. Hiring practices employed by applicant;
d. Residency of all applicants or owners;
e. Applicant’s commitment to Diversity and Inclusion best practices;
f. Safety and security plans;
g. The distance between the main entry door of the applicant’s proposed location and any public
or nonpublic elementary or secondary school building, which shall be no less than 200 feet; and
g. Any other documents or information the City deems necessary.”
They also reserve the right to grant final approval to open, which no Jersey City cannabis dispensary has received.
The Jersey City cannabis dispensary distance requirements are many. They include:
“The applicant shall provide the latitude and longitude of the main entry door of the proposed location and request list of Class 5 Retail cannabis locations operating within 600 feet of the that location from the Jersey City Division of City Planning.
They are also eager to prioritize certain applications over others, like those with cannabis convictions, minority, or woman-owned. However, MSOs like to point out when they are minority or woman-owned too.
Many MSOs are known for poor labor practices, producing overpriced mediocre products, and being indifferent to social equity. But some care greatly.
New Jersey Cannabis Town Law Problems
New Jersey cannabis town law is coming out far from the ideal. The vision was largely shared by the New Jersey cannabis advocates who pushed for the 2020 New Jersey cannabis legalization referendum and the Cannabis Regulatory Enforcement And Marijuana Modernization Act (CREAMMA) that implemented it.
The New Jersey cannabis law implementation process has been haphazard at best. No one is managing it. The NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) is trying its best to do what it can now that they have approved about 1,000 New Jersey conditional cannabis licenses.
Less than half that is likely available under the de facto town New Jersey cannabis license cap.
There never was a model New Jersey cannabis town ordinance which has been a significant part of the problem. In addition, there are no swarms of local cannabis activists that can be called upon to defend every company in every town.
Towns in New Jersey have a lot of autonomy as well.
More than half of New Jersey towns have outright banned cannabis dispensaries. Most have a very small license cap of 1-3 dispensaries only in certain parts of town.
The process that New Jersey towns have set up has varied widely in quality. New Jersey weed law experts and potential operators have reported countless problems with the process.
MSOs Beating Local Cannabis Companies on Town Level
Most majority White towns are largely indifferent to social justice and social equity concerns stemming from the War on Drugs. Many suburban towns are favoring large cannabis corporations that are Multi-State Operators (MSOs.)
Even in towns more likely to favor local serial entrepreneurs, well-known community minded, and somewhat politically connected, MSOs are beating locals. The process has been very shady in some places.
MSOs can hire higher end cannabis attorneys and lobbyists to secure town approval. The locals who can do so are making some progress. Those who cannot afford higher end lobbyists and consultants are more likely to fail ultimately.
Many town officials probably do not know enough about weed policy to regulate the companies. Thus, they favor established companies. It is likely many harbor prejudices against legacy operators. Local politics is likely playing a great part as well.
Anti-cannabis rhetoric might still work well among the elderly and those especially worried about Law and Order.
The haphazard New Jersey town cannabis law implementation process has led to more than a dozen pending lawsuits on the local level throughout the Garden State.
Some towns are wary of companies that look cash strapped in a process that can run into millions of dollars. Many towns just want an easy guarantee of more tax revenue from weed sales.
This is to be expected in an era of Big Box Stores like Walmart and fast food chains like McDonald’s and Burger King littering the landscape.