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Trend of Allowing Limited NJ Cannabis Licenses, But Not Dispensaries Begins

South River, Parsippany, and towns in Southwest Bergen County are about to pass laws allowing certain NJ cannabis licenses but not a dispensary by the August 21st deadline.

The Borough of South River, NJ, in Middlesex County, introduced a pro-cannabis law that would allow NJ cannabis licenses but not a dispensary.

“There were a number of retailers that would like to sell marijuana, but we decided it was best to say no,” Mayor John Krenzel (R) said. “There is general agreement on this. If you want to wholesale grow it and sell it, that is fine, but as far as retail, that’s a no.”

Under the pro-cannabis law, the council will allow the following five cannabis facility types:

  1. Growers
  2. Manufacturers
  3. Wholesalers
  4. Distributors
  5. Deliveries

Five of each sort will be allowed meaning there could be 25 cannabis businesses in South River. This would make South River very progressive.

Cannabis facilities would have to be 200 feet from a place of worship or a school. They will be allowed in the local business districts, the general business district, the light industrial district, and the waterfront revitalization district in town. Their hours will be restricted so they cannot work nights or from 2 AM to noon on Sundays. A provision within the law would stop smelling like cannabis outside. They also included the two percent tax in their law. No facility will be allowed to keep more than $5,000 in cash on the premises.

On May 24th, South River introduced the pro-cannabis law allow dispensaries. The cannabis law now needs to be approved by the town’s Planning Board. It will likely pass on its second ordinance reading at the Council’s July 12th meeting.

The borough likely needs the business and money to cope with the empty storefronts on its Main Street.

Parsippany Adopts Limited Cannabis Policy

Parsippany, NJ, in Morris County, is going to allow certain NJ cannabis licenses but not a dispensary. They will only allow wholesaling and distribution licenses. The council debated allowing cultivation but said the township doesn’t have the water to support it. They will also not allow manufacturing.

“I can envision warehousing wanting to be here even if we don’t have dispensaries because they can get here from anywhere and go anywhere from here,” Council President Michael dePierro said.

Township planner Susan Favate laid out a plan that their Cannabis Working Group created to keep dispensaries away from schools, neighborhoods, and parks. They would allow two of the two allowed NJ cannabis license types to operate within Parsippany.

While dispensaries need to be 1,000 feet from a school in the cannabis referendum law, they can be near a neighborhood or a park. People might want not want them near them, though.

Cannabis facilities would be allowed in Parsippany on Edwards Road-New Road corridor on Parsippany’s east side, a small commercial corridor along Jefferson and Pomery roads near Route 287, Parsippany Boulevard, and Fanny Road, and parts of the Morris Corporate Center.

The Council was open to allowing the other licenses in the future.

“It’s kind of a nice compromise to allow some limited operation in a way that makes sense,” said Council Member Emily Peterson, “and you can always go back and revisit when you want to expand it.”

Mayor Michael Soriano (D) is running for re-election after winning in 2017. He came out strongly in favor of parental notification for a minor’s first-time offense. Parsippany is not a traditional Democratic stronghold, and he will likely face a tough race in the fall.

Southwest Bergen County Adopts Limited NJ Cannabis Licenses Policy

As Mayor of Wood-Ridge, Senator Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen) has coordinated cannabis policy among his fellow local officials in Southwest Bergen County. Retail and Delivery will not be permitted, while Cultivation, Manufacturing, Wholesaling, and Distributor licenses will be allowed in certain towns. They will be restricted to industrial zones away from schools, houses of worship, neighborhoods, “recreational facilities,” stores, and other public places.

These towns are adding places where they do not want a cannabis dispensary to the restrictions imposed in the state laws. The state law only said they had to be 1,000 ft away from a school.

“I think that it is very important that towns work collaboratively in developing policies on cannabis because our towns are all relatively small and our roads and neighborhoods are all intertwined,” said Sarlo said. “You could literally drive through all ten of the towns that are party to this agreement in less than twenty minutes.” 

Some municipalities either do not have industrial zones in the proper zones or do not have industrial zones at all. They have decided to not permit any class of Cannabis License within their municipal borders. It’s unclear which towns will allow any cannabis businesses yet. A Wood-Ridge official did not respond to requests for information by the time of publication.

The following mayors have signed the agreement:

  • Mayor Paul Sarlo of Wood-Ridge
  • Mayor Jeff Lahullier of East Rutherford 
  • Mayor Frank Nunziato of Rutherford
  • Mayor Robert Giangeruso of Lyndhurst
  • Mayor Jim Anzevino of South Hackensack 
  • Mayor Daniel Pronti of North Arlington
  • Mayor John DeLorenzo of Hasbrouck Heights 
  • Mayor Robert Zimmermann of Carlstadt
  • Mayor Dennis Vaccaro of Moonachie
  • Mayor Melissa Dabal of Wallington

 “I’m very proud that our local officials have agreed to cooperate on a coordinated policy regulating the cannabis industry in our towns,” said Senator Sarlo. “We all agree that a consistent policy within our region is in the best interests of our residents.”

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