With the state’s fledgling cannabis industry in development as state regulators met for the first time this week to determine rules and policies for the eventual legal sale of marijuana, Brick officials took a unanimous stand against the operation of cannabis businesses in the township.
A constitutional amendment lifting the state’s prohibition on marijuana was approved by voters last November, and enabling legislation was passed earlier this year. Under that legislation, towns were given 180 days to determine whether they would allow or disallow cannabis-based businesses, leading Brick officials to update an existing ordinance in order to make the ban compliant with state statutes.
The state divides cannabis businesses into six categories: cultivation, manufacturing (cultivation), wholesaling, distributing, retailing and delivery services. Brick’s ordinance, as introduced Tuesday night, would ban businesses in every category. The ordinance is subject to a public hearing and second vote for final adoption, which is set for the April 27 township council meeting.
“The council’s land use committee reviewed the new law and recommends that the council act on banning new establishments,” said Council President Lisa Crate.
No members of the public commented on the measure after its introduction, nor did any officials explain the reasoning behind the policy. For elected officials, however, the state’s 180 day policy comes with consequences. If no ordinance was adopted, the council’s previous ban on marijuana-based businesses would be voided, and the businesses would have been allowed to open in the appropriate zones – for example, retail dispensaries in a business zone and a cultivation facility in an industrial zone. Should the council reverse course, the township would be obligated to allow cannabis businesses for a period of five years. After that period, existing businesses would be grandfathered in and could continue to operate, while the township would have a new 180 period to prohibit new businesses from opening.
Brick’s ban will prohibit all classes of cannabis businesses, including delivery services. But while delivery services will not be allowed to base themselves in Brick, they will still be able to make deliveries to customers, meaning that cannabis consumers in town will have such an option in the future.
Formally, the ordinance as introduced stated that the council was putting the ban in place due to “present uncertainties regarding the potential future impacts of allowing one or more classes of cannabis businesses might have on New Jersey municipalities in general.” The ordinance also states that the council believes it is in the “best interest of the health, safety and welfare” of township residents that cannabis businesses be banned.
The April 27 meeting, at which the public hearing and second vote on the measure will take place, is scheduled for 7 p.m. via Zoom.