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Cranbury Township prohibits recreational cannabis businesses

After months of discussion and debate, members of the Cranbury Township Committee voted unanimously to adopt an opt-out ordinance prohibiting all recreational cannabis businesses from operating in the township.

The ordinance opts out of all six class business licenses for recreational cannabis. Those class licenses are Class 1-cultivator (grower), Class 2-manufacturer (processor), Class 3-wholesaler, Class 4-distributor, Class 5-retailer and Class 6-delivery service.

Class licenses are awarded by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission.

The Township Committee adopted the ordinance at a virtual meeting on July 12.

Mayor Mike Ferrante, Deputy Mayor Barbara Rogers, Township Committeeman Matt Scott, Township Committeewoman Evelyn Spann, and Township Committeeman Jay Taylor voted “yes” to the measure adopting the ordinance.

Before the adoption of the opt-out ordinance at the Township Committee level, the ordinance had to be reviewed by the township Planning Board. The township Planning Board determined the ordinance was consistent with the master plan at a virtual meeting on July 1.

If the Township Committee had not adopted an ordinance opting out or opting in by Aug. 21, Cranbury Township would have been automatically opted in to all of the six classes, which would be permitted uses in all of the zones of the municipality.

Additionally, the township’s governing body would not be able to adopt an ordinance prohibiting certain classes or all classes for five years.

The township adopting an ordinance opting out of all six class licenses by the state mandated deadline gives Township Committee members more time to discuss and debate the potential allowance of certain licenses within the township.

Even if municipalities adopt an opt-ordinance for recreational cannabis businesses, those governing bodies are not prohibited from opting in at any time. Cranbury would have only had an issue if the Township Committee had not adopted any ordinance by the Aug. 21 deadline.

The state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission is going to adopt rules and regulations that should further describe and detail the licensing requirements. Those rules and regulations have not yet been released.

During a previous work session in June, Township Committee members indicated that they would want to wait until rules and regulations were released before moving forward on a future decision on whether to allow recreational cannabis business operations in Cranbury.

If Cranbury were to opt in and decide to allow certain operations in the township, the governing body could restrict cannabis licensees by establishing an ordinance that limits the times of operation, the location, and what zones Cranbury would allow any particular license.

The governing body could also establish civil penalties for violations of the ordinance it sets up regarding cannabis.

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