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Manalapan officals set public hearing on cannabis ordinance

MANALAPAN – Township Committee members have set July 14 as the date for a public hearing on a proposed ordinance that will, if adopted, prohibit the operation of any class of cannabis business in Manalapan.

The ordinance was introduced on June 16. The public hearing on the ordinance will take place at the Manalapan Municipal Complex, 120 Route 522 and Taylors Mill Road, at 7:30 p.m. July 14. Any member of the public may comment on the proposed ordinance at that time.

The potential action in Manalapan 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, 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, including those in Manalapan, 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.

Manalapan officials are proposing to not issue any type of cannabis license. By law, they may not prohibit the delivery of cannabis and cannabis supplies to addresses in Manalapan by a delivery service that is licensed in another municipality.

According to the proposed ordinance, if Manalapan officials fail to take action by Aug. 21, then “for a period of five years thereafter, the growing, cultivating, manufacturing, selling and reselling of cannabis and cannabis items shall be permitted uses in all industrial zones, and the retail selling of cannabis items to consumers shall be a conditional use in all commercial and retail zones.

“At the conclusion of the initial and any subsequent five-year period following a failure to enact local regulations or prohibitions, the municipality shall again have 180 days to adopt an ordinance regulating or prohibiting cannabis businesses, but any such ordinance would be prospective only and would not apply to any cannabis business already operating within the municipality,” the ordinance states.

Manalapan officials said they have determined that “due to present uncertainties regarding the potential future impacts that allowing one or more classes of cannabis business might have on New Jersey municipalities in general, and on the Manalapan in particular, it is at this time necessary and appropriate, and in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the township and its residents, to amend the township’s zoning regulations to prohibit all manner of marijuana-related land use and development within the geographic boundaries of the township.”

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