North Brunswick creates overlay zones for permitted licenses of adult use cannabis

PHOTO COURTESY OF VALLEY WELLNESS

NORTH BRUNSWICK – In the 2020 general election, New Jersey voters approved Public Question No. 1, which amended the New Jersey Constitution to allow for the legalization of cannabis for adults at least 21 years of age.

In North Brunswick, the vote count was 11,307 “yes” to 5,914 “no” votes.

On Feb. 22, 2021, Gov. Phil Murphy signed the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act into law, which legalizes the recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older, and establishes a comprehensive regulatory and licensing scheme for commercial recreational (adult use) cannabis operations, use and possession.

The act establishes six marketplace classes of licensed businesses. On July 26, the North Brunswick Township Council unanimously approved all six classes.

• Class 1 – Cannabis Cultivator license, for facilities involved in growing and cultivating cannabis;

• Class 2 – Cannabis Manufacturer license, for facilities involved in the manufacturing, preparation, and packaging of cannabis items;

• Class 3 – Cannabis Wholesaler license, for facilities involved in obtaining and selling cannabis items for later resale by other licensees;

• Class 4 – Cannabis Distributor license, for businesses involved in transporting cannabis plants in bulk from on licensed cultivator to another licensed cultivator, or cannabis items in bulk from any type of licensed cannabis business to another;

• Class 5 – Cannabis Retailer license, for locations at which cannabis items and related supplies are sold to consumers;

• Class 6 – 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; the 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.

During the Nov. 1 Township Council meeting, the members of the governing body voted to introduce an ordinance establishing guidelines for the cannabis businesses. The ordinance is scheduled to go before the board for a public hearing and final vote on Nov. 15.

The ordinance, in part, establishes the CAN-R1C Cannabis Route 1 Corridor Overlay Zone, which allows for the retail sale and delivery of cannabis products on Route 1 in a commercial shopping center or mixed-use area that has more than 25,000 square feet of retail/commercial floor space and that provides direct access from Route 1.

Michael Hritz, director of community development, said the focus was how to permit retail sales with minimal impact, such as by having cars go on and off Route 1 without driving on municipal roads, when the ordinance was initially addressed during the Oct. 12 council meeting.

The ordinance also establishes the CAN-JA Cannabis Jersey Avenue Overlay Zone, which permits all classes aside from retail in the industrial sections of the Jersey Avenue corridor in warehouses that are more than 35,000 square feet in space, with no more than 5% of the area of the building located within 250 feet of a residential zone or unless separated by the Northeast Corridor rail line.

Both overlay zones prohibit the location of any such establishments within 500 feet of a school, a house of worship, a park or a playground.

Previously, during the Oct. 12 council meeting, council President Carlo Socio had asked that the hours of operation match those of liquor stores in town, so retail uses will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Township Attorney Ronald Gordon clarified that the consumption of cannabis is not permitted anywhere in public in North Brunswick. He said the recreational use of marijuana is not authorized outside of a private residence. He also said North Brunswick will not permit consumption cafes.

Within the geographic boundaries of the township, the maximum number of licensed cannabis businesses will be no more than two for each class of cannabis licensed establishment, per the ordinance.

Gordon said the state must approve any licenses first, before local officials can make a determination on proposed uses or applicants.

Hritz said anyone seeking a license must come before the Planning Board for review so the board can institute any appropriate conditions.

Gordon also mentioned that any proposals will have to undergo a land use review.

Another part of the ordinance establishes the collection of tax revenue from local businesses for the Finance Office.

The cannabis transfer tax in North Brunswick will be fixed at a uniform percentage rate of 2% on all sales or transfers of cannabis products from any of the cannabis establishments that are located within the geographical boundaries of the township.

The tax will be imposed on receipts from the sale of cannabis by a cannabis cultivator to another cannabis cultivator; receipts from the sale of cannabis items from one cannabis establishment to another cannabis establishment; receipts from the retail sales of cannabis items by a cannabis retailer to retail consumers who are 21 years of age or older; or any combination thereof.

A 1% transfer tax will be collected from receipts from each sale by a cannabis wholesaler located within the geographical boundaries of the township.

A user tax is established at the same rate of the transfer tax and will be imposed on the value of each transfer or use of cannabis or cannabis items not subject to the transfer tax.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@newspapermediagroup.com.