OLD BRIDGE – The Township Council is again looking to ban recreational and medical marijuana shops as well as businesses that manufacture, sell or dispense weed-related paraphernalia from operating here.
The council unanimously approved an ordinance earlier this week that would amend the “prohibited uses” section in the land development code.
The ordinance would prohibit all classes of cannabis establishments, distributors and delivery services, whether for medicinal or recreational purposes, including those establishments that manufacture, sell or dispense cannabis related paraphernalia, from operating in the township.
The ordinance also says that marijuana or cannabis cultivation facilities, production or manufacturing facilities, testing facilities, wholesale or retail stores, dispensaries and delivery services, which are related to cannabis or marijuana for medical purposes, and such facilities or stores that manufacture, sell or dispense marijuana related paraphernalia for medical purposes, are prohibited from operating anywhere in the township.
The ordinance does not ban the delivery of recreational or medical cannabis or related items or supplies by a delivery service that emanates from a delivery service located outside the township.
Municipalities are not allowed to ban residents from using marijuana, according to state law, nor can they ban licensed cannabis delivery companies from making stops within their borders.
A public hearing and vote on the ordinance are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at the June 22 council meeting.
In 2018, prior to when the new state law went into effect, the Township Council approved an ordinance that banned businesses from the sale, distribution, cultivation and facilitating the use of recreation and or medicinal marijuana.
The prior ordinance amended the land development code’s “prohibited use” section to include “businesses selling, distributing, cultivating, growing and/or facilitating the sale and/or use of either recreation and or medicinal marijuana, including any ancillary or related paraphernalia.”
Under the new state law, any existing municipal ordinances regulating or prohibiting cannabis are void and must be readopted to be effective.
The New Jersey State League of Municipalities and the New Jersey Institute of Local Government Attorneys have recommended that municipalities adopt ordinances outlawing marijuana businesses until all issues with the state legislation are resolved.
Under state law, if municipalities do not adopt a marijuana zoning ordinance by Aug. 22, six months after legalization went into effect, marijuana businesses would be allowed to operate in a municipality for five years.
However, a municipality could reverse a ban at any time. If the township does not pass the ordinance, it would not be allowed to prohibit marijuana businesses for at least five years.
Information on accessing the meeting is available at bit.ly/3yaj5EY.
Susan Loyer covers Middlesex County and more for MyCentralJersey.com. To get unlimited access to her work, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.