MANCHESTER, NJ — Manchester Township officials have decided to move forward with a ban on retail cannabis businesses within the township’s borders.
At Monday’s Township Council meeting, Councilman Robert Hudak said a committee that has been studying the issue of cannabis businesses that would cater to adults who want to use marijuana recreationally found there are a lot of matters that still lack clarity at the state level.
New Jersey residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of legalizing the adult use of recreational marijuana during the November 2020 election. State rules and regulations approved in February gave towns until August to decide how to regulate cannabis businesses in their municipalities.
If towns do not act by August, they will be prevented from any ban on recreational marijuana businesses for five years.
Hudak acknowledged that even in Manchester, the public voted to legalize recreational use by adults. Of 27,549 voters who cast ballots on the question, 15,746, or 57.16 percent, voted yes, and 11,803, or 42.84 percent, voted no.
“We want to be responsive to the voters,” he said, but said the town needs more time to study how to enact an ordinance that makes allowances wisely.
“It’s not a judgment on” legal adult recreational marijuana use, Hudak said. “We just need to know all the facts.”
A few residents who called into the council meeting said they support a permanent ban on recreational marijuana in the township.
Council President Craig Wallis asked township clerk Sabine Martin to have the town’s professionals prepare an ordinance modeled on one suggested by the League of Municipalities that bans the retail businesses. It could be presented at the May 25 meeting.