HILLSBOROUGH, NJ – The township committee on Tuesday night approved an ordinance banning marijuana retail, farming and warehousing operations in the township by a 4-1 vote.
The bill as drafted prohibits cannabis establishments, delivery services and distributors from operating anywhere in the Township of Hillsborough, except for the delivery of cannabis and related supplies by a cannabis service. delivery.
“This ordinance will allow us to assess the sales and use of marijuana in other communities so that we can make an informed judgment on how to approach the same thing in Hillsborough,” Mayor Shawn Lipani said when the ordinance was introduced last month. “It’s a quality of life issue meant to act in the best interests of Hillsborough residents, families, business owners and visitors to the Township, with respect to the health, safety and well-being. . “
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Lipani voted in favor of the ordinance, along with Deputy Mayor Frank DelCore and committee members Doug Tomson and Janine Erickson. The Jeffrey Wright Committee voted against the ordinance.
The vote came after more than two hours of public comments and statements by Committee members. Wright offered to postpone a vote to a June 22 meeting, but received no support from the committee.
Residents critical of the ordinance said the township should consider revenue that would be created through retail, warehousing and farming operations; state law legalizing marijuana allows local municipalities to charge up to 2% on all sales and transactions.
Others have pleaded with the Committee to examine the benefits for those who need medical marijuana.
The majority of public comments were critical of the ordinance, with several residents suggesting it be put to a vote in the future, but Lipani, Tomson and DelCore pushed back, complaining that the law of the State as drafted will not allow sufficient time to make a responsible decision before the August 21 deadline due to the lack of state rules and regulations and the time required locally to enact new laws zoning laws and hold more public hearings once these rules and regulations are released by the state.
“It’s about being careful and careful,” Lipani said.
“This ordinance has nothing to do with legalization,” DelCore said. “We have the right to know what the requirements will be. We don’t know what we will be tied to; we don’t have the luxury of time.”
Tomson added: “We have to see the rules. We don’t have the rules.”
New Jersey voters approved a referendum legalizing cannabis in the November 2020 election by over 70%; the vote in Somerset County reflected this overwhelming majority. In Hillsborough, 64 percent of voters approved the measure.
On February 22, 2021, Governor Murphy enacted the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, which legalizes the recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older, and establishes regulations and regulations. full licenses. system of exploitation, use and possession of commercial recreational cannabis (adult use).
The five-member New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission has six months to enact laws to oversee the legalization of cannabis; New Jersey is the 13th state to legalize the sale and possession of cannabis.
The law gives municipalities 180 days – until August 21, 2021 – to take action to ban or limit the number, location and hours of operation of cannabis establishments, distributors and delivery services.
Tomson and Delcore criticized the CRC because the rules and regulations were not published; Lipani stressed that the CRD was due to meet last week, but the meeting was canceled.
If municipalities do not act within 180 days, by default, all 6 cannabis licenses / classes would be allowed to operate in the municipality in commercial and industrial areas as conditional use.
Municipalities that adopt an ordinance within 180 days to ban cannabis establishments or distribution operations may, at any time, reverse this decision and adhere to it. However, once a municipality authorizes cannabis establishment or distribution activities in its community, the municipality cannot opt out for 5 years.
This ordinance does not prohibit residents from consuming cannabis on their own property, in a private club, or as permitted by law, but it will allow lawmakers to gather more information on how best to address the issue. sale and use of marijuana in the community, according to Lipani.
State law gives local governing bodies several options, ranging from licensing cannabis retail stores in their business districts to outright banning those businesses. The law provides for six different types of licenses that businesses can apply for in the recreational cannabis market:
Class 1 license: cannabis cultivator (cannabis cultivation)
Class 2 license: cannabis manufacturer (preparation and packaging)
Class 3 license: cannabis wholesaler (sale to other wholesalers and retailers)
Class 4 license: cannabis distributor (sale between growers / establishments)
Class 5 license: cannabis retailer (sale to retail customers)
Class 6 license: delivery of cannabis (delivery from retailers to retail customers).
Wright suggested that the Committee consider voting separately on each of the six license classifications, but received no support.
Elsewhere in Somerset County:
On April 6, the Township of Bridgewater council voted to ban the sale of marijuana in the township, approving four related ordinances prohibiting the operation of cannabis businesses within the borders of Bridgewater; the operation of any class of marijuana establishments in all areas of the city; smoking, vaping, aerosolizing, and consuming cannabis or cannabis-based items on public property; and recreational cannabis, as a matter of driving.
On April 15, Bernardsville lawmakers voted in favor of an ordinance prohibiting the operation of any class of cannabis businesses within the borough,
On April 16, Manville voted to ban the retail sale of marijuana;
On April 19, the Somerville Borough Council began preliminary discussions, with most members indicating they would look favorably upon the retail sale of cannabis in the 2.5-square-mile county seat. A second meeting is scheduled for May 6 to continue the conversation, according to Mayor Dennis Sullivan.
Franklin Township lawmakers are also in favor of approving retail operations.
Raritan City Council has approved the licensing of medical marijuana dispensaries.