MEDIUM MUNICIPALITY – The town council unanimously approved two cannabis-related ordinances on Wednesday, one to allow a single retail cannabis license in the municipality and another to set a framework for how the municipality will evaluate license applications.
This ordinance also sets a $ 2,500 non-refundable fee for reviewing applications to support a cannabis business.
Under New Jersey cannabis regulations, a sample of municipal support is part of the process of applying for a state license. So far, only companies that already had a license to distribute cannabis to those with medical marijuana cards have been approved for sale in the new recreational market, meaning there are no dispensaries in Cape May County.
Middle Township has cautiously advanced on the legal grass. The town council has backed an application for a medical marijuana facility, but last summer passed an ordinance banning any retail sale to the adult use market.
“I thought as a group you weren’t in favor of … selling recreational marijuana to the municipality. Now it looks like you are, with certain restrictions,” resident Stanley Doniger told the meeting. “Could you help me understand what changed your mind about this?”
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“I was never in public record as opposed to a dispensary in Middle Township,” Mayor Tim Donohue responded. Rather, he said, the municipality did not have enough information on state rules under which the new market would operate before a state-imposed deadline of August 22 for cities to take action on the issue.
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He said cities that enacted strict rules, such as banning Middle Township retail, could ease those rules later, but could not enact stricter rules once they voted to allow sales.
The state established six classes of licenses for the recreational cannabis market. Last October, the municipality approved allowing the cultivation and manufacture of cannabis products in the municipality.
The new ordinance would allow for a Class Five license, which would allow sales to customers over the age of 21.
In many communities, governing bodies have limited cannabis companies to specific locations. Middle Township chose to leave it to the business owner. According to Donohue, the business would be allowed in any commercial area, as long as the established zoning restrictions and state laws were followed.
Several potential business owners have asked about the location of a cannabis dispensary in the township, Donohue said. Several beach communities, including each in the Wildwoods, have said cannabis sales are not allowed, so the township could one day be a prime location for summer business.
West Cape May and Lower Township have also said yes to allowing the sale of weeds at retail, and West Cape May has already endorsed two applications. As Donohue said, West Cape May has an advantage, but even then, he said, the first store will probably not be open for at least a year.
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The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission has begun issuing licenses for cultivation facilities that will store the new legal market. Cannabis retailers will not be allowed to bring anything from other states; must be grown in New Jersey or companies will violate federal law.
Massachusetts-based cannabis company Insa plans to locate a medical marijuana and recreational cannabis plant on Indian Trail Road in the Goshen section of the town, on the site of a former seafood processing plant. .
Steve Reilly, the company’s co-owner, attended Wednesday’s meeting but did not speak publicly. After the meeting, he said plans for the building are being finalized, but that the project is still awaiting approval from the Cannabis Regulatory Commission’s license. He said he could hear more at some point this summer.
He said his company may be interested in applying for a dispensary license in the municipality. Once the municipal government supports a license application, it will still need the approval of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
At the meeting, Donohue said the municipality would continue to move slowly on the issue. If the retail of cannabis proves to be a good fit, he suggested that the committee could try to allow additional licensing in the future.
Communities can add local taxes to cannabis sales, which could mean a boost to future budgets.
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