NJ Election 2021 issue: marijuana regulation
Reporter Mike Davis explains how each candidate for governor could shape marijuana regulation in NJ.
Mike Davis and Thomas P. Costello, NorthJersey.com
DOVER —Cannabis businesses will be allowed to operate in town under new regulations approved at Tuesday’s Board of Aldermen meeting.
The 15-page ordinance, approved unanimously, establishes zoning codes and licensing requirements for recreational marijuana dispensaries. It also sets up an application process to open a dispensary in town.
“A lot of people had input into this ordinance,” said Alderman Eddie Correa. “We believe [this] is a thorough, very comprehensive piece of legislation. We believe it includes a lot of components for the applicants and has always put our community first.”
Voters last year made New Jersey the 13th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and Gov. Phil Murphy signed legislation in February that allows individual towns to regulate the business within their borders.
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The ordinance changes the town zoning code to allow for recreational and medical dispensaries. Officials will only award two licenses at a time, but they place no limits on the number of licenses awarded to micro cannabis businesses. According to the ordinance, micro cannabis businesses must be 2,500 square feet and have a maximum of 10 employees.
“We don’t want companies to come in and take over here,” said Christian Velasquez, a cannabis advocate, during Tuesday’s meeting. “We want the cannabis industry in Dover to be made up of micro cannabis businesses owned by the people that live here in Dover.”
Businesses are allowed in the town’s general commercial district along McFarlan Street, before Morris Street, and industrial zone along Richboynton Road and Clinton Street.
Along with a long list of questions and prerequisites included in the application, applicants must also secure a state license. The state requires those seeking a license to secure a location and town approval before applying to the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
“This is very safe, but at the same time, very socially oriented, socially responsible piece of legislation that is going to create local jobs,” Correa said. “At the same time, it will bring our town in sync with the current trends when it comes to this new upcoming industry.”
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There is a $2,000 non-refundable application with a $5,000 annual fee for cultivators, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors. Microbusinesses will pay half. Retailers must pay an annual fee of $10,000 and those that serve as delivery businesses must pay $2,500 per year. By state law, 2% of all dispensary sales will go to the town.
Legalization won more than two-thirds of the vote statewide in 2020. In Dover, 66% of voters approved the measure. After more than half the New Jersey voters passed the adult use of recreational marijuana, the state gave municipalities until mid-August, six months from when Murphy officially legalized it in February, to decide whether they will allow sales within their borders or pass an ordinance to ban it.
In April, Dover’s Board of Aldermen introduced an ordinance to temporarily ban marijuana sales and businesses in town to give members time to develop rules and regulations. The Board’s ordinance will go into effect next year.
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.