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Eatontown council hears proposals for medical marijuana operations

As medical marijuana is already being dispensed at a business in Eatontown, multiple entities are seeking municipal support to start their own operations in the borough in accordance with state guidelines.

Earlier this month, a satellite location of Garden State Dispensary opened at 59 Route 35. There, patients who are enrolled in New Jersey’s medical marijuana program may obtain medical marijuana.

Garden State Dispensary received approval from state officials to establish an Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) in Woodbridge, which is located in Middlesex County, and Mayor Anthony Talerico said the approval for an ATC gave the business the right to open satellite locations where medical marijuana could be dispensed.

Talarico explained that because Eatontown has no zoning that permits a medical marijuana facility, the Garden State Dispensary location on Route 35 “fell into the zoning where retail pharmacies are allowed … Because (the entity) has a license from the state and the town’s zoning permits it, they opened.”

At the July 24 meeting of the Borough Council, medical marijuana was on the agenda. Representatives of four entities came forward to seek municipal support for one of two types of medical marijuana facilities.

The facilities being proposed in Eatontown are dispensaries where medical marijuana is sold to patients and cultivation sites where cannabis is planted, grown and harvested for sale to dispensaries.

The entities listed on the council agenda were East Coast Wellness LLC; Sanctuary Medicinal LLC; Community Wellness Center of New Jersey LLC; Evan S. Griffin; and Comp-X Medical Management Services.

Prior to hearing each entity’s business proposal, Talerico explained the nature of the application process which is carried out at the state level.

“Last year when (six entities) won (the right to establish new ATCs throughout the state), they won (a specific) location and they also had the opportunity to open up satellite locations,” Talerico said.

“My understanding is that no, we did not grant community support (for the Route 35 dispensary), but because the town has no zoning for medicinal marijuana, (the satellite location) fell into the zoning where retail pharmacies are allowed … Because (Garden State Dispensary) has a license from the state and the town’s zoning permits it, they opened,” he said.

Talerico asked the representatives of each entity to explain their ties to Eatontown. He also asked if they were seeking community support to open facilities in other municipalities.

Council members questioned the potential legalization of what some people refer to as recreational or adult use marijuana and asked the representatives if they supported that use. They all said their applications in Eatontown only deal with medical marijuana.

The representatives of all of the entities were asking the council to write a letter of support to the state. They said such a letter would help them gain additional points when their application is considered at the state level.

• First, two representatives of Community Wellness Center of New Jersey, LLC, told the council they plan to apply to operate a medical marijuana dispensary where registered patients can purchase cannabis. The two men later declined to speak with a reporter with the Atlantic Hub.

On a roll call vote, council President Patti May Kelly and council members Al Baginsky, Tonya Rivera and Jasmine Story voted “yes” to support Community Wellness Center of New Jersey. Councilwoman Jennifer Sherrod voted “no.”

• The second presentation was from Christine Suarez-Loures of Comp-X Medical Management Services, who proposed a dispensary. Some council members expressed discomfort with the applicant’s inability to provide the address of the planned business.

On a roll call vote, Kelly, Rivera, Story and Sherrod voted “no” to grant municipal support to Comp-X Medical Management Services. Baginsky voted “yes.”

• Third to speak was Peter Corallo, a representatives of East Coast Wellness, LLC, who wants to operate a Tier 3 (30,000 square feet) cultivation facility in Industrial Way Park. Corallo initially appeared before the council in 2018 and gained municipal support, but did not receive state approval.

Corallo said he has since changed his business plan from an ATC to a cultivation site.

On a roll call vote, Kelly, Baginsky, Sherrod, Rivera and Story voted “yes” to provide a formal letter of support to East Coast Wellness, LLC.

• Next up was a representative of Sanctuary Medicinals, LLC, who also described plans to operate a Tier 3 cultivation facility in Industrial Way Park. The same individual initially appeared before the council in 2018 and gained municipal support, but did not receive state approval.

She said she has since changed her business plan from an ATC to a cultivation site.

On a roll call vote, Baginsky, Sherrod, Rivera and Kelly voted “yes” to grant municipal approval to Sanctuary Medicinals, LLC. Story voted “no.”

• Griffin did not show up to the council meeting. No motion was made to write a letter of support for him.

Talerico said entities seeking to apply to operate an ATC, a dispensary or cultivation site do not require the host town’s formal approval. An entity with a letter of support from its host town will receive a higher score on its application.

Applications to open an ATC must be reviewed and approved by state officials before further action may be taken at the municipal level.

According to the New Jersey Department of Health website, up to five cultivation endorsements and up to 15 dispensary endorsements will be granted later this year.

Councilman Gregory Loxton was absent from the meeting.

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