Opt-out ordinance centered on cannabis to be drafted for Cranbury Township Committee

The Cranbury Township Committee will introduce a drafted ordinance next week that would opt out of all six business licenses for recreational cannabis in Cranbury.

The six licenses that can be awarded are Class 1-cultivator (grower), Class 2-manufacturer (processor), Class 3-wholesaler, Class 4-distributor, Class 5-retailer and Class 6-delivery service.

The Township Committee can decide through an ordinance whether the governing body will opt in to allow certain types of licenses awarded by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission or to fully opt out by the Aug. 21 deadline set by the state for municipalities.

A work session resulted in a 5-0 straw poll vote in favor of approving an opt-out ordinance to currently prohibit all six licenses for recreational cannabis businesses at a Township Committee meeting on May 24.

Even though it was a straw poll vote, members of the Township Committee have directed township attorney Scott Miccio to draft an opt-out ordinance for all six licenses, which would be introduced at the June 14 Township Committee meeting.

With the target date for the first reading of the ordinance set for June 14, other target dates include a planning board review of the ordinance in early July and then a second reading of the ordinance would occur on July 12.

The state is going to adopt rules and regulations that should further describe and detail the licensing requirements. Those regulations are anticipated to come out right on or around Aug. 21. The Aug. 21 date is the same date by which Cranbury would have adopt an ordinance on either to opt in or opt out of recreational cannabis.

If the Township Committee were not to pass an ordinance by Aug. 21, Cranbury Township would be automatically opted in to all of the six classes and be permitted uses in all of the zones of the municipality.

In the event of a failure to adopt an ordinance, Cranbury would then be prohibited from passing such an ordinance for five years.

Cranbury can restrict cannabis licensees by establishing an ordinance that limits the times of operation, the location, what zones Cranbury would allow any particular license class if the Township Committee were to opt in.

The township could also establish civil penalties for violations of the ordinances it sets up regarding cannabis.

When Miccio was presented with the question of how the Drug Free School Zone is impacted, he responded by stating that the legislation does not mention anything about the Drug Free School Zone.

“What I can tell you is that if the municipality does choose to opt in to any of the licenses it can create its own setbacks or specific distances from schools,” Miccio said on May 24. “There would be a way to ensure that at the municipal level at least that any of the licenses are not located near a school.”