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Matawan officials propose permitting cannabis retail, delivery operations


MATAWAN – The Borough Council has introduced an ordinance which, if adopted, will permit retail cannabis businesses and cannabis delivery services to operate in Matawan and regulate those establishments.

The ordinance was introduced during a council meeting on July 20.

A public hearing on the ordinance has been scheduled for Aug. 4. Members of the public may comment on and ask questions about the ordinance at that time. Council members may vote to adopt the ordinance following the public hearing.

According to the ordinance, Matawan’s municipal code will be amended to permit and regulate retail cannabis businesses in the borough’s highway improvement zone and in the railroad improvement district. The ordinance will permit cannabis delivery service licenses to be issued in all zones. Cannabis business activity in all other zones will be prohibited.

Borough Council President John Lazar said, “I believe our cannabis ordinance makes perfect sense for Matawan. The people of Matawan made their voices clear and this legislation represents our chance to listen and take action as elected officials.

“Our ordinance positions Matawan at the forefront of the retail cannabis industry in Monmouth County and will allow us to collect a 2% local sales tax.

“This new tax revenue can be used to improve our parks, roads and programs our residents enjoy. The stigma surrounding cannabis is slowly evaporating and we are very proud to lead Matawan into this new and exciting chapter,” Lazar said.

Councilwoman Deana Gunn said she believes that since a significant majority (68%) of residents who went to the polls in November 2020 voted to legalize marijuana, borough officials can safely, effectively and responsibly allow retail cannabis sales within certain parameters.

“With many towns opting out (of licensing cannabis businesses), Matawan has an increased opportunity to be a leader in this market space. Per the (state) legislation, a municipality cannot prohibit the delivery of cannabis items by a delivery service within their jurisdiction,” Gunn said.

The action in Matawan 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 in New Jersey 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.

The proposed ordinance will amend Matawan’s municipal code to prohibit the possession of cannabis in borough parks and the consumption of cannabis on borough property.

According to the ordinance, it will be unlawful for anyone to consume a cannabis item available for lawful consumption pursuant to the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act in any public place, including any public highway, public street, public sidewalk, public parking lot or lot, playground, park or other property owned by, belonging to, or over which Matawan has control, other than school property for which unlawful consumption is a disorderly persons offense, or when not prohibited by the owner or person responsible for the operation of that public place.

Any person violating the ordinance will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $200.

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