Jackson cannabis prohibition awaits final vote from municipal officials


JACKSON – During a meeting on June 29, members of the public are expected to have a chance to voice their opinion on an ordinance that would, if adopted by the Township Council, prohibit cannabis businesses from operating in Jackson.

Council members voted to introduce the ordinance during their June 15 meeting.

In a November 2020 public question, residents of New Jersey voted to legalize adult use (also called recreational use) cannabis. In Ocean County, 190,204 residents voted “yes” and 126,469 residents voted “no” on the legalization question.

In the wake of the referendum, state legislators have taken steps to enact the cannabis legalization process.

Municipal officials in every Garden State community now have the option to prohibit or to permit the production and/or the sale by licensed operators of cannabis within their borders. Municipal officials must make a decision by Aug. 21.

According to the Jackson ordinance, the purpose of the proposed law “is to regulate the marketplace class of licensed recreational cannabis businesses and to codify a prohibition on all six marketplace classes of cannabis establishments … cannabis cultivator, cannabis manufacturer, cannabis wholesaler, cannabis retailer, cannabis distributor and cannabis delivery service.”

The ordinance does not, and may not by law, prohibit the delivery of cannabis items and related supplies into Jackson by a delivery service that is based outside the township.

Councilman Nino Borrelli said he was concerned because Gov. Phil Murphy has signed bills into law legalizing recreational use marijuana and decriminalizing possession of the substance.

“And the impact it could potentially have on the quality of life in Jackson,” Borrelli said.

The councilman said municipal officials must adopt an ordinance before the Aug. 21 deadline.

“Recreational marijuana businesses could start popping up in our town (if action is not taken). They would be grandfathered in, that’s it, no turning back.

“These businesses could possibly open up near residential neighborhoods where kids and teenagers live and play.

“This could also potentially lead to increased drug use in our town and illegal activity (that would) place an undue burden on our police force,” Borrelli said.

He said the situation could affect property values and added, “There are too many what ifs? or could be or uncertainty.”