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Two Freehold Township cannabis ordinances set for public hearings June 22

FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – The Township Committee is taking action to maintain a prohibition of the cultivation, harvesting and sale of marijuana in Freehold Township, as well as banning underage use of the substance, while permitting medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in the community.

On May 25, committee members introduced two ordinances related to the use of marijuana in Freehold Township. A public hearing on the ordinances is scheduled for June 22. Residents and other interested parties may comment on the ordinances at that time. The governing body may adopt the ordinances that evening.

The first ordinance, if adopted, will prohibit all cannabis cultivators, cannabis delivery services, cannabis distributors, cannabis manufacturers, cannabis retailers and cannabis wholesalers from operating in Freehold Township.

Cannabis items and supplies will be permitted to be delivered in Freehold Township by a licensed cannabis delivery service that is based outside the municipality.

In addition, the first ordinance will permit medical cannabis dispensaries to operate with or without an indoor consumption area on the premises. Outdoor on-site consumption areas are not permitted. Medical cannabis dispensaries will only be permitted to operate in Freehold Township’s H-1 hospital zone, according to the ordinance.

The second ordinance, if adopted, will prohibit the possession or consumption of cannabis items by underage individuals.

As stated in the ordinance, an individual must be 21 years old or older to legally use adult use marijuana (also referred to as recreational marijuana).

Through the second ordinance, an individual under the age of 21 will be prohibited from possessing or consuming marijuana items on private property and on public property under the grants of municipal authority.

The governing body’s action follows the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, also known as A-21, which was approved by state legislators in February after New Jersey voters in 2020 approved a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana.

The state legislation 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 Freehold Township by amending the local land use ordinance.

The 2018 ordinance was adopted by the Township Committee following the inauguration of Gov. Phil Murphy, who said he would take action to legalize marijuana for adult use.

The first new proposed ordinance is an amendment of the 2018 ordinance, repealing and replacing the provisions that were rendered void by A-21.

The second new proposed ordinance creates a new chapter in the municipal codebook entitled “Recreational Cannabis.”

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