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Jersey City Says Officials Should Not Interfere with Cannabis Applications

Jersey City Corporation Counsel Peter Baker explained officials should not interfere with cannabis applications. It was during yesterday’s council caucus meeting since two are back on the council’s agenda.

“It’s very important that council members and other city officials not interact with applicants, charities, and other non-profits and recuse themselves from the application process or any vote on an application if such interaction may cause a conflict of interest in order to avoid a potential appearance of impropriety,” he said.

Cannabis Control Board Issues

“Part of the Cannabis Control Board (CCB) review process requires that an applicant provide a community impact plan which will show how an applicant intends to have a positive impact on their community,” Baker explained. “They must also provide a written description of their social responsibility, philanthropy, and ties to the host community, as well as a workforce development plan. The community impact plan should show how the applicant intends to address any issue that arises from the operation of their cannabis establishment.”

He continued that this could include traffic mitigation efforts, security/public safety, and neighborhood beautification. Baker stated that the city’s Law Department is working with other partners in the administration and the cannabis control board. They will establish a definitive process for vetting and qualifying nonprofits that will be eligible for these endeavors.

“This should have been read to the city council six months ago,” Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano exclaimed about the cannabis application process.

“It’s better late than never,” Jersey City Council President Joyce Watterman added.

Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh asked if an applicant needs to have an MOU with a nonprofit before applying for a license.

“It can take any number of forms. It can be a donation process. There may not be a donation process. They may partner directly, provide workers. It may not be funding. It needs to be very detailed. They need to follow through. Talk is cheap,” Baker replied.

“But it’s not mandatory, correct?” Saleh asked.

“Correct,” Baker said.

Applications Process

Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley asked what they can do to enforce the rules and regulations.

“The cannabis control board is gonna get it in 12 months. They’ll review it. Say they promised to do an expungement clinic and failed to do it. The question then becomes why and possibly their renewal gets disapproved,” Baker responded.

Watterman noted that the community impact plans should include second-chance programs to help those harmed by cannabis prohibition.

“It was supposed to help those who was disenfranchised, to my understanding, based on the state law. We’ve seen applications that had nothing to do with that,” she noted.

Baker added that vetted non-profits will “address historic disparate impacts.”

2 Jersey City Cannabis Applications To Approve

Additionally Commerce Department Director Maynard Woodson noted two resolutions to approve. The Cannabis Place 420 Corp. and Oceanfront Holdings were on the agenda.

“This item was pulled at the last caucus meeting because there was a question about the New Jersey residency. We have received an updated application, and there has been a New Jersey resident added to that application as part owner,” he explained about Cannabis Place.

“Did the board vote on adding that? I know residents will be concerned. So the CCB had to vote it to accept it, correct?” Watterman asked.

“No. The discussion with the board attorney … was to accept the updated application because the presentation included everything else that seemed to be more important to the community,” Woodson said.

“Is it acceptable by law then? If the attorney said it was ok, then I want it on the record,” Watterman said.

Business Administrator John Metro said the CCB Board Counsel Ron Mondello had to discuss the matter with Baker. He would then fill the council in on the details before their Thursday meeting at 6 p.m.

“Initially, there were no partners that lived in New Jersey. Then they subsequently found another partner, or did someone move?” Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational,” Gilmore asked.

“They added on a partner. I believe, one of the persons helping them with the approval process,” Woodson explained.

Approving a Dispensary

The resolution includes an August 16th letter from Cannabis Place President Osbert Orduna. It said Hudson County Clerk Junior Maldonado now owns five percent of the company.

“The law said they have to have five percent ownership and live in the State of New Jersey for at least two years. That’s why I want a letter from the lawyer. People will think it’s our decision,” Watterman said.

Last month, Watterman apologized for voting yes on a resolution signing off on a dispensary co-owned by her daughter. She said she was tired after a five-hour-plus meeting. The majority of public comments made demanded Jersey City Councilwoman-at-Large Amy DeGise resign over a hit-and-run.

As for Oceanfront Holdings, Ward E Councilman James Solomon had met with them. He said they were working on sitting down with a neighborhood association to discuss the project.

“Happy to have them on the agenda,” Solomon said.

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