Middletown officials take first step to prohibit cannabis cultivation, sales


MIDDLETOWN – The members of the Township Committee in Middletown have introduced an ordinance that will, if adopted, prohibit the operation of any class of cannabis licensed business in the township.

The ordinance was introduced without comment on June 21 on a vote from Deputy Mayor Rick Hibell, Committeewoman Patricia Snell and Committeeman Ryan Clarke.

Mayor Tony Perry and Committeeman Kevin Settembrino were absent.

A public hearing on the ordinance has been scheduled for July 19. Members of the public may comment on the proposed legislation at that time. The committee members may take action on the ordinance following the public hearing.

The potential action in Middletown 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 residents voted in 2020 to approve a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana.

The state legislation legalizes the use of recreational marijuana (also called adult use 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.

By Aug. 21, municipal officials in every New Jersey municipality must decide whether any or all of the state’s approved cannabis businesses will be permitted to operate within their borders. If they do not act, automatic zoning will permit the operation of cannabis businesses.

Municipal officials have the option to issue six types of licenses related to cannabis:

• Cannabis Cultivator license, for facilities involved in growing and cultivating cannabis;

• Cannabis Manufacturer license, for facilities involved in the manufacturing, preparation and packaging of cannabis items;

• Cannabis Wholesaler license, for facilities involved in obtaining and selling cannabis items for later resale by other licensees;

• Cannabis Distributor license, for businesses involved in transporting cannabis plants in bulk from one licensed cultivator to another licensed cultivator, or cannabis items in bulk from any type of licensed cannabis business to another;

• Cannabis Retailer license, for locations at which cannabis items and related supplies are sold to consumers;

• Cannabis Delivery license, for businesses providing courier services for consumer purchases that are fulfilled by a licensed cannabis retailer in order to make deliveries of the purchased items to a consumer; this service would include the ability of a consumer to make a purchase directly through the cannabis delivery service which would be presented by the delivery service for fulfillment by a retailer and then delivered to a consumer.

Middletown’s committee members are proposing to not issue any type of cannabis license. They may not, by law, prohibit the delivery of cannabis and cannabis supplies in Middletown by a delivery service that is licensed in another municipality.