Upper Freehold officials amend ordinances dealing with marijuana

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UPPER FREEHOLD – Ordinances that ban the production and sale of marijuana in Upper Freehold Township have been amended by the Township Committee to maintain the municipal ban while coming into compliance with a state law that legalizes the use of the drug.

During a meeting on May 6, committee members adopted two ordinances which amend Upper Freehold’s land use and police regulations ordinances and acknowledge the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act.

The act is known by its state bill number, A-21.

A-21 was approved by state legislators in February after New Jersey voters in 2020 approved a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana.

The legislation does the following: It legalizes the recreational use (also known as adult use) of marijuana for certain adults, subject to state regulation; it decriminalizes the possession of small amounts of marijuana and hashish (a marijuana concentrate); and it removes marijuana as a Schedule I (high potential for abuse) drug.

Before adult use marijuana was legalized in New Jersey in 2021, the Township Committee adopted an ordinance in 2018 that banned the production and sale of marijuana in Upper Freehold.

The municipal ordinance was adopted by Upper Freehold’s all-Republican governing body following the inauguration of Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who said he would take action to legalize marijuana for adult use.

Upper Freehold’s original ordinance stated it was unlawful “for any person or entity to engage in the planting, cultivation, growing, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, packing and/or sale of marijuana, any plant or product containing Tetrahydrocannabinol (the psychoactive part of marijuana), or any derivative or synthetic form” of the drug in the municipality.

That statement was added to the previous versions of the township’s land use and police regulations ordinances.

The amended ordinances remove that statement from the previous versions and replace it with the regulation that pursuant to A-21, “all cannabis establishments, cannabis distributors or cannabis delivery services are hereby prohibited from operating anywhere in the Township of Upper Freehold except for the delivery of cannabis items and related supplies by a delivery service.”

The ordinances do not discuss the possession, general distribution or use, of marijuana; the local law makes the production and sale of marijuana illegal within Upper Freehold.