Brick Township officials on Tuesday night unanimously voted to ban all six classes of cannabis-based businesses in the township, and rebuffed arguments from dissenters who argue that the township will miss out on a stream of tax revenue that will be available to towns that allow such business to operate.
“The argument that marijuana sales will help fund schools or lower taxes doesn’t exist,” said Council President Lisa Crate.
Crate gave the following example of how much Brick estimated it would generate in sales tax revenue from marijuana-based businesses: The state has allowed towns to put up a 2 percent tax on sales, she said. There is an estimate that 300 of the 565 towns in New Jersey will allow sales. The $1 billion in estimated total sales would amount to $3.3 million per town. Two percent of that figure is $66,000.
“That is the ‘great’ revenue towns will see if sales are allowed,” Crate said, adding that the revenue would fund no more than one township employee earning a $35,000 salary, when benefits and payroll costs are factored in.
One resident spoke out against the prohibition on cannabis-based businesses, which includes manufacturing (cultivation), wholesaling, distributing, retailing and delivery services.
“Fighting this will immediately cause this township to lose all potential investment,” said Richie Campbell. “There are plenty of people waiting for someone to build these businesses around the Shore, and other towns are going to pass us by.”
Delivery services based outside of Brick will be allowed to deliver to township residents under the state’s new marijuana legalization law. Campbell argued that high-paying jobs are scarce in Ocean County, and there are no technology firms in the region. That leaves retail businesses as major employers, which are being supplanted by digital services.
“You should be adopting and encouraging investment from businesses like these that are Amazon-proof,” he said.
There were no other comments from members of the public or elected officials on the matter. Crate, for her part, said that the financial impact to the township would be small compared to the unknown impacts of allowing cannabis-based businesses to operate. If the township did not ban businesses within 180 days of the state’s legalization law being passed, an unlimited number of such businesses – assuming they are licensed – would be able to open in Brick for five years and would automatically be allowed in commercial and industrial zones. If problems were to arise, the township would not be able to institute a ban for five years and existing businesses would be grandfathered in afterwards.
Crate did leave open the possibility that the township could, at some point, repeal the prohibition.
“By passing this ordinance and not being in the test program, we can sit back and objectively see what other towns have to deal with on the whole,” she said. “Maybe there will be issues, maybe there won’t be any issues. The town is not locked into a ban for five years.”