Hightstown voters approve of retail sale of cannabis products in the borough

PHOTO COURTESY OF VALLEY WELLNESS

When the last votes were tallied, Hightstown voters overwhelmingly approved the lone municipal public question on the ballot: whether the mayor and Hightstown Borough Council should adopt an ordinance to permit the retail sale of cannabis products in the borough.

Voters approved the question by a margin of 817 votes to 507 votes, based on the certified vote tallies released Nov. 19 by Mercer County officials.

The certified vote tallies included early voting, Election Day voting on Nov. 2, mail-in ballots and provisional ballots.

The municipal public question sought voters’ opinion on whether the Borough Council should adopt an ordinance to permit one or more cannabis retailer businesses to open in the borough.

The cannabis retail businesses would sell cannabis items and related supplies to consumers for adult-use recreational purposes, with the sales subject to a local cannabis tax paid directly to Hightstown.

The sales tax, which would be set by the mayor and council, would not exceed 2% of the receipts of each sale.

Hightstown officials surveyed residents in June in an online poll on the town’s website, but there were too few responses to draw any conclusions. That’s why the council decided to put the question on the General Election ballot.

The referendum question follows the Hightstown Borough Council’s decision not to allow any cannabis businesses to open in the 1.2-square-mile borough.

In May, the Hightstown Borough Council adopted an ordinance that banned the sale, packaging, distribution and cultivation of cannabis, ahead of a state-imposed Aug. 21 deadline to decide whether those businesses may open in town.

If a town had not decided to ban any or all cannabis-related businesses by the Aug. 21 deadline, those businesses would have been allowed to operate in all industrial zones. The retail sale of cannabis products would be permitted as a conditional use in all commercial and retail zones for five years.

At the end of the five-year period, a town would have six months to adopt an ordinance to regulate or ban the businesses. However, the ordinance would not apply to those already established in the town.

New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing adult-use (recreational) cannabis in a statewide binding referendum in November 2020. Hightstown voters approved it by a vote of 1,833 to 719.