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Cannabis businesses banned as Tinton Falls awaits state guidance

TINTON FALLS – Borough Council members have taken action to prohibit the operation of cannabis businesses in Tinton Falls while guidance from the state is pending.

During a meeting on July 13, the council members adopted an ordinance that will prohibit all six types of cannabis businesses that are eligible to receive a license to operate in New Jersey from operating in the borough.

The ordinance states that Tinton Falls officials intend to lift the prohibition on cannabis businesses when they receive regulatory guidance from the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission that they deem adequate.

The Borough Council’s action follows the enactment of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, also known as A-21, which was passed by state legislators in February after New Jersey voters in 2020 approved a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana.

The legislation legalizes the recreational use (also known as adult use) of marijuana by 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.

According to the ordinance that was rejected by the governing body, A-21 established six marketplace classes of licensed marijuana businesses: cultivator, manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, retailer and delivery.

As noted in the ordinance, the state legislation allows municipal officials to prohibit the operation of cannabis businesses in their town. The prohibition must be adopted by Aug. 21, otherwise, cannabis businesses will be permitted in the municipality for a five-year period.

According to the ordinance, the council is prohibiting cannabis businesses from operating in Tinton Falls because of uncertainties governing the licensing process at the state and local levels, and due to the limited amount of time officials have had to establish appropriate zoning regulations for a new class of commercial uses of property in the municipality.

The council members said they believe it is in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of residents to await the adoption of regulatory guidance from the Cannabis Regulatory Commission before permitting such businesses in Tinton Falls, according to the ordinance.

The ordinance states that the governing body wishes to establish land use regulations and licensing standards for regulated cannabis businesses in the borough upon receipt of the adequate regulatory guidance, which is anticipated later this year.

As noted in the ordinance, the council’s action does not affect the legality of adult use marijuana by individuals over the age of 21 in Tinton Falls. And by law, the council may not prohibit the delivery of cannabis and/or cannabis supplies to addresses in the borough from a delivery service that is based in another municipality.

Concurrent with the rejection of the cannabis ordinance, council members passed a resolution to create a subcommittee to study cannabis legislation and regulations.

The subcommittee is scheduled to make recommendations for the licensing of cannabis-related businesses by Nov. 15. A new cannabis ordinance could be introduced after the subcommittee offers its recommendations to the council.

The individuals appointed to the subcommittee were Borough Council members Risa Clay and John Manginelli; Acting Borough Administrator Thomas Fallon; Borough Engineer Thomas Neff; Director of Law Kevin Starkey; Zoning Officer Dana Webb; Borough Planner Jennifer Beahm; Construction Official Cary Costa; and Planning Board member Sharon Brown.

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