ENGLEWOOD – Mayor Michael Wildes has opted to veto the council’s decision to ban marijuana business in the city, calling the move “ridiculous.”
The council approved a ban on July 29 that would prohibit the cultivation and sale of marijuana. Wildes had 10 days to sign the veto, and he did just that on Friday.
“I think it is ridiculous given the circumstances of this. Both Teaneck and Fort Lee have approved the sale in some capacity,” Wildes said. “I think that it would be foolish not to monetize something that will be in the city… there will be generations to come that will judge us for missing the opportunity to put money from this in the treasure chest.”
Under state law, municipalities can collect taxes of up to 2% on revenues generated by marijuana businesses.
Wildes also said that this is not something new to be considered, because the conversation started in 2018 and the “time for action is now.”
The ban was first introduced at a meeting in early June. At that time, Wildes talked about the financial benefits of allowing for marijuana business in the city, noting that it would go a long way toward funding the long-discussed community center.
On Tuesday the council weighed creating a committee to discuss the possible sale of marijuana.
Councilman Michael Cohen was adamant about moving things along quickly so that if the council wanted to allow marijuana sales, it would have the opportunity to choose a reputable company before the retailer opted for another town.
He and Council President Charles Cobb were at odds over the timeline of forming the committee. Both Cobb and Councilman Wayne Hamer noted that because they are considering approval in the industrial zones, the decision would impact residents in those parts of the city more.
New Jersey residents voted in favor of marijuana legalization in November, but it took until February for state officials to agree on and pass legislation. Municipalities have until Aug. 21 to pass legislation to regulate or restrict marijuana cultivation and distribution within municipal boundaries. The next chance for towns to enact limits will be in five years.
Legal weed operations will generate two state taxes and a municipal tax. The biggest cut of the revenues will be divided among “impact zones,” or certain cities where marijuana laws have historically been most harshly enforced.
Some towns such as Elmwood Park and Garfield have decided to opt in on the sale of the now legalized drug while others such as Hasbrouck Heights and Wayne are opposed.
Katie Sobko is a local reporter for NorthJersey.com. For unlimited access to the most important news from your local community, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.