Township Council All In For Offering All Types Of Legal Weed Licenses

The Council has decided to support all of the potential licenses for the state’s new marijuana industry.

The Township Council on March 23 gave the high sign to supporting all six of the licenses that will be available for the budding legal marijuana industry in New Jersey.

Council members unanimously supported a motion made by Councilwoman Kimberly Francois (D-At Large) to introduce and pass ordinances allowing for licenses for the cultivation, manufacturing, wholesaling, distribution, retailing and delivery of legal marijuana, once the state has created the framework for them.

Once the ordinances are approved, which should be early this summer, the township will have to decide in which zones it will allow the various operations.

The Council will also have to decide if it wants to charge the full allowed fee of 2 percent on all sales of legal marijuana operations.

The move is not unprecedented. The Council in August 2018 voted to support the location of medical marijuana facilities in the township’s M-1 and M-2 zones, which allow for light industrial uses.

Gov. Phil Murphy in February signed the three pieces of legislation that allow for the sale of recreational marijuana for adults. Towns have six months from that date to decide if they want to allow any of the licenses within their borders.

Township attorney Louis Rainone told the Council that it does not have to take any action if it wants to allow the licenses, but if it goes that route, the town will be barred from prohibiting any of the licenses for five years.

“If you decided that you want to allow all six licenses, you don’t have to pass an ordinance,” Rainone said. “The (six months) is if you’re going to pass an ordinance barring any of the licenses. If you are going to allow all six licenses, you should probably have land use take a look at the zoning ordinances and decide where you want them in the town and adopt the appropriate zoning ordinances.”

Councilman Ted Chase said the Council should pass “positive” ordinances, allowing for the licenses, to send a message and to leave open its options.

“I think we should have a positive ordinance that specifies manufacturing, cultivation, processing, and wholesaling be permitted in Business and Industry zone and retail and delivery in the General Business zone,” he said.

“I think we would be making a positive statement that could attract business while making it clear where such uses would be permitted,” Chase said. “Also, if we pass a positive ordinance, we’re not bound by this no change for five years, but we could change that ordinance in the future if we wanted.”

“To adopt a positive ordinance would be the best thing we could do,” he said.

Rainone said that if towns take no action, the thought is that the state Legislature will decide that “growing, cultivation, manufacturing selling and reselling of items be permitted in all industrial zones, and the retail stores will be a conditional use in all retail zones.”

After making her motion., Francois said the Council will take advice from township staff as to which zone should permit which licenses.

Rainone told the Council of an additional benefit to allowing the industry to operate in the township.

Because Franklin has been designated a “high-imapct zone,” he said, a portion of the tax money raised from legal marijuana sales will be sent back to towns, adding that the amount is not yet known, but it “could be a substantial amount of money.”

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