Hillsborough Township Committee votes to prohibit cannabis businesses under new ordinance

At last week’s Hillsborough Township Committee meeting, the board voted 4-1 in favor of adopting a new ordinance that would prohibit any kind of cannabis business activities to take place within the township for the time being.

Mayor Shawn Lipani, Deputy Mayor Frank DelCore, Committeeman Doug Tomson and Committeewoman Janine Erickson were the four members of the township committee to vote “yes” to adopt the new ordinance.

All four officials said they voted for the prohibition based on the fact the state has yet to establish any regulations on selling or using cannabis in public areas.

In a statement to centraljersey.com, Lipani said the new ordinance is a step in the process of finding out more information on the matter before making a decision that would be best for Hillsborough.

“This ordinance is just a step in the process, so the rules and regulations can be established and then Hillsborough can determine what, from a community standpoint, would make sense and then move forward accordingly,” Lipani said.

The Hillsborough cannabis ordinance does not prohibit residents from using marijuana for recreational or medical use on private property.

Last November, New Jersey voters did legalize recreational use of marijuana by a 2-1 margin, but selling cannabis products to adults over 21 years of age could not commence until the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) established rules and licenses for new dispensaries and cannabis facilities.

Committeeman Jeffrey Wright was the only member of the committee to vote “no” on the new ordinance.

Wright mentioned in his comments at the meeting that he wanted more “clarification” from the language used in parts of the ordinance and to amend them in any way before a vote would occur.

He also suggested that each member of the township committee vote “line by line” on the six classes of cannabis businesses: retail sales (dispensaries), cultivation, manufacturing, wholesale, distribution, and delivery services.

None were accepted by the committee.

Wright did make a motion to postpone a final vote on the injunction until June 22 but none of his colleagues seconded him on the motion.

Wright’s motion to postpone a final vote on the ordinance was based on the CRC being expected to provide more information on the matter by then.

He added in a press release sent out by the Hillsborough Democratic Organization that he believes employment and revenue opportunities regarding cannabis businesses in Hillsborough deserve a “second look” and that he will continue to evaluate the situation as more information comes in from the CRC.

“I am disappointed that my peers did not see fit to support the will of the voters and bring more stakeholders to the table,” Wright said. “I vow to closely follow CRC developments and other municipalities so that our government might properly evaluate the impact and potential benefits for Hillsborough sooner rather than later.”

The CRC did hold a meeting on June 1 for municipalities across the state to voice any concerns they have regarding zoning and trafficking marijuana use and sales in their communities.

No regulations by the CRC were instituted at the meeting.

The CRC is scheduled to meet again on July 13.

All municipalities in the state must make a decision by August 21 to ban or allow cannabis business to occur within their township. If a municipality does not adopt an ordinance by then, it’s under state law that cannabis businesses can sell marijuana products in that community for the next five years and cannot be prohibited.

A municipality can reverse its decision to ban the sale of marijuana at any time.