South Brunswick council plans to opt out of marijuana operations

SOUTH BRUNSWICK – South Brunswick Township Council members plan to take a “wait and see” approach regarding the new laws legalizing cannabis.

They plan to opt out of operations for the time being, and then reconsider after the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission makes its final plans.

Voters approved the legalization of the adult use of marijuana during the November 2020 general election. Officials in every municipality in New Jersey must now decide whether to opt in or opt out with an ordinance on any aspect of the legislation by Aug. 21.

There are six types of licenses the Cannabis Regulatory Commission will issue. They are cultivator (grower), manufacturer (processor), wholesaler, distributor, retailer and delivery service.

Town officials can choose which, if any, of the six licenses would be issued in the municipality.

If they opt in, they are committed for five years. If they opt out, they can decide to opt in at any future time.

If officials do not adopt an ordinance by Aug. 21, then cultivators, manufacturers, wholesalers and distributors will automatically become permitted uses in all of the industrial zones of the township, according to the legislation.

As of the June 8 South Brunswick Township Council meeting, council members wanted to prohibit the operation of all classes of cannabis establishments, distributors and delivery services; and prohibit the consumption by certain persons and/or in certain places within the township, according to Ordinance No. 11873.

Deputy Mayor Joseph Camarota said the guidance from the Cannabis Regulatory Commission is like “shooting in the wind.”

Councilman Ken Bierman said to err on the side of caution, the council should opt out, and if regulations change after Aug. 22, South Brunswick can opt in.

“If we opt out for now and see what goes on … then we can always opt in,” Councilwoman Archana “Ana” Grover concurred.

The first reading of the town’s ordinance is scheduled for June 22, followed by a second reading and public hearing on July 27.

The ordinance, as it is currently written, cites cannabis as being harmful to physical and mental health, the possibility of an increase in traffic accidents and driving under the influence arrests, and establishments potentially disturbing quiet neighborhoods and/or causing a decrease in property values.

The ordinance prohibits the operation of all classes of cannabis establishments, distributors, delivery services, micro businesses and consumption areas everywhere within the jurisdiction of the township.

Cannabis testing facilities would be permitted.

Deliveries of cannabis to residences in the township would be permitted by delivery services that are not based in South Brunswick.

Consumption or purchase by underage persons on private property is prohibited, other than by smoking, vaping or aerosolizing, as is deemed acceptable by state law.

It will be unlawful for anyone over the legal age of 21 to purchase or consume cannabis, other than by smoking, vaping or aerosolizing, on any public property.

These restrictions do not apply to medical marijuana.

For more information, visit southbrunswicknj.gov

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com