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Holmdel officials propose banning all cannabis businesses in township

HOLMDEL – The Holmdel Township Committee has introduced Ordinance 2021-25A which, if adopted, will prohibit all cannabis businesses from operating in the township.

The ordinance was introduced during a meeting on July 13. Voting “yes” on a motion to introduce the ordinance were Mayor Greg Buontempo, Deputy Mayor Cathy Weber, Committeeman Prakash Santhana, Committeeman Tom Critelli and Committeeman D.J. Luccarelli.

A public hearing on the ordinance has been scheduled for the committee’s Aug. 10 meeting. Members of the public may comment on or ask questions about the ordinance at that time. The committee members may vote to adopt the ordinance following the public hearing.

According to Ordinance 2021-25A, the following cannabis establishments would be prohibited in Holmdel: cannabis manufacturers; cannabis wholesalers; cannabis cultivators; cannabis retailers; cannabis distributors; and cannabis delivery services.

By law, the Township Committee may not prohibit the delivery of cannabis items and related supplies to addresses in Holmdel by a licensed cannabis delivery service that is based and initiated from a location outside of Holmdel.

A second ordinance, Ordinance 2021-25B, was also listed on the July 13 agenda for possible consideration by the Township Committee members. That ordinance proposed permitting cannabis cultivators to operate on farms in Holmdel.

Action on Ordinance 2021-25B became moot following the unanimous introduction of Ordinance 2021-25A. The second ordinance was skipped by unanimous consent of the  members of the governing body.

During a discussion that preceded the committee’s vote to introduce Ordinance 2021-25A, Critelli said no entity or individual had expressed an interest in becoming a cannabis cultivator in Holmdel.

Santhana said a 2% percent tax Holmdel officials have the authority to levy on a cannabis cultivator could have produced about $120,000 in annual revenue for the municipality. He said he would not have expected more than two cannabis cultivators to operate in Holmdel if the use was permitted.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Eric Hinds, a former mayor, said he was “relieved” to see the committee members introduce an ordinance that will prohibit all types of cannabis establishments from operating in Holmdel.

“No amount of money (in municipal revenue) is worth bringing a gateway drug into the community,” Hinds said.

The pending action in Holmdel 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 Holmdel, 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.

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