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Council makes changes to cannabis penalties in Freehold Borough

FREEHOLD – Members of the Borough Council have amended the penalties that would apply to cannabis businesses that may operate in Freehold Borough to comply with state statute.

The penalties for violating cannabis business zone, cannabis business license and cannabis business sales tax regulations were amended through an ordinance adopted during a recent meeting.

According to a previous version of the ordinance, any individuals found to be in violation of Freehold Borough’s regulations relating to cannabis businesses would have been subject to a $2,500 fine for a first offense, a $5,000 fine for a second offense and a $10,000 fine for a third offense.

The amended ordinance changes the penalty to be the maximum fine or imprisonment for a period not exceeding the maximum fine permitted under New Jersey law.

In addition, if a fine for a building violation or a zoning code violation exceeds $1,250, the individual found to be liable for the violation will receive a 30-day period to cure or abate the condition. The owner will also have the opportunity of a hearing before a court.

Under the amended ordinance, violations are considered separate for each day and subject to the same penalties.

In July, the Borough Council established the locations where cannabis businesses may be permitted to operate in Freehold Borough and how the operators of those businesses may receive a license.

The borough’s actions regarding cannabis businesses followed 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 voters in 2020 approved a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana.

The law legalizes the recreational use (also known as adult use) of marijuana for certain adults; 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 Freehold Borough ordinance, A-21 established six marketplace classes of licensed marijuana businesses: cultivator, manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, retailer and delivery. The cultivator, manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor and retailer marijuana businesses will be permitted to operate in the borough.

A marijuana delivery business will not be permitted to operate in any zone in Freehold Borough, however, the delivery of cannabis products and/or supplies to addresses in Freehold Borough by a delivery service that is based outside the borough may not be prohibited.

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