Editor’s note: This story has been revised and updated.
HILLSBOROUGH, NJ – Township officials are expected to join with local lawmakers throughout the state on April 9 for a webinar hosted by the New Jersey League of Municipalities to learn more about the law legalizing marijuana and how it may affect the state’s 567 municipalities.
“Municipal Guidance: Responding to the New Cannabis Law” will provide answers as to the choices a municipality faces, and the potential ordinances municipalities must create, based upon the “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act. The webinar begins at 11 a.m. and is scheduled to conclude at 12:15 p.m. Call (609) 695-3481 ext 118 for further information. Registration is $45 for members, and $65 for non-members.
“Someone from our staff will be there for sure,” said Mayor Shawn Lipani. “It’s a bunch of legalese that seems to be ever evolving. “We’ll go on there to see what they have to say.”
New Jersey voters approved a referendum legalizing Cannabis in the November 2020 election by more than 70 percent; the margin was closer to 60 percent in Hillsborough, according to Lipani.
On Feb. 22, 2021 Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, which established the framework for a legal, adult-use cannabis industry in New Jersey and reform of criminal possession and sales offenses. The five-member NJCRC has six months to promulgate the laws to oversee the legalization of cannabis; New Jersey is the 13th state to legalize the sale and possession of cannabis.
The state law gives local governing bodies several options, from licensing cannabis retail stores in their business districts to an outright ban on such businesses. The law gives each governing body until August to adopt laws regulating the sale of marijuana in their respective towns.
The law provides for six different types of licenses that businesses may seek in connection with the recreational cannabis market:
Class 1 License: Cannabis Cultivator (growing cannabis)
Class 2 License: Cannabis Manufacturer (preparing and packaging)
Class 3 License: Cannabis Wholesaler (selling to other wholesalers and retailers)
Class 4 License: Cannabis Distributor (selling between cultivators/establishments)
Class 5 License: Cannabis Retailer (selling to retail customers)
Class 6 License: Cannabis Delivery (delivery from retailers to retail customers).
Bridgewater has already proposed a series of four ordinances that will make it illegal for any cannabis-based businesses to operate in the township, while in Jersey City, two wholesale operations have been given approval to cultivate cannabis for sale to the retail market.
Hillsborough has yet to discuss its options formally, according to Lipani.