MOUNT OLIVE— Township officials voted unanimously to ban all marijuana-related business in Mount Olive despite the state’s move to legalize cannabis earlier this year.
The ban prohibits the sale, cultivation, delivery and distribution of marijuana within Mount Olive, per the ordinance. The new regulations will take effect later this month.
“Due to the detrimental impacts that permitting one or more classes of cannabis business might have on New Jersey municipalities, and our community in particular, it is at this time appropriate and necessary,” read the ordinance passed on Tuesday.
Municipalities have until Aug. 21, six months from when New Jersey officially legalized marijuana in February, to decide whether they will allow sales within their borders or pass an ordinance banning it. If they miss that deadline, growing and selling will automatically be permitted for a five-year period. Towns can also regulate operating hours for retail and distribution centers under state rules.
Last month, Mount Olive officials held a webinar to discuss the state’s new rules and regulations around marijuana use and business. Township officials said there were “too many unknowns” with New Jersey’s new guidelines. Council President Joe Nicastro said the township could “opt-in” once it had a better understanding of state guidelines and their implications on the municipality.
“But it made good sense now, as a governing body, not to approve something we don’t know about yet,” said Nicastro during the webinar last month.
Towns across North Jersey are considering a cannabis prohibition to develop new rules by the August deadline. Last month, Dover, Wayne and Morristown introduced similar ordinance for their towns. Randolph and Mendham have also discussed holding public forums to educate the public on new marijuana rules.
On Tuesday, Parsippany council members also discussed a marijuana ban, which will be re-introduced on May 18.
More than half of New Jersey residents voted for legalizing marijuana. In Mount Olive, roughly 66% of residents supported that measure last November. The township is the latest Morris County municipality to ban cannabis-related business in their municipality.
New Jersey is the 13th state to legalize marijuana and allows the use of cannabis for residents 21 and over. State laws also allow the purchase and sale of marijuana at state-licensed dispensaries, but it could take up to a year before recreational sales even begin.
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Those looking to open a cannabis dispensary must apply for a state license and secure a location and town approval before submitting their application to the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
Currently, there are 13 dispensaries run by 10 operators in New Jersey, serving 100,000 registered medical marijuana patients. In February, Murphy signed a bill that legalized the possession and use of marijuana by anyone 21 or over. The laws also remove all civil penalties and fines for underage users, including for underage drinking citations.
Jessie Gomez is a local reporter for DailyRecord.com and NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.