FREEHOLD – Members of the Borough Council are moving to amend regulations regarding cannabis businesses that may eventually operate in Freehold Borough by adding medical cannabis dispensaries as an approved business.
During a meeting on Jan. 18, council members introduced an ordinance that will, if adopted, amend the borough’s existing cannabis ordinance to include alternative treatment centers which dispense medical cannabis to qualified individuals. The alternative treatment centers will be combined with cannabis retailers and follow the same regulations.
A public hearing on the ordinance is scheduled for Feb. 7. The governing body may adopt the ordinance that evening.
Alternative treatment centers have been dispensing medical marijuana to qualified individuals in New Jersey since 2012, according to sanctuarywellnessinstitute.com
In 2021, state legislators approved the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act after New Jersey voters in 2020 approved a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana.
The state legislation legalized the recreational use (also known as adult use) of marijuana by certain adults; it decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana and hashish (a marijuana concentrate); and it removed marijuana as a Schedule I (high potential for abuse) drug.
The law established six marketplace classes of licensed marijuana businesses in New Jersey: cultivator, manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, retailer and delivery.
The Borough Council subsequently adopted an ordinance which established the locations where cannabis businesses will be permitted to operate and the standards by which a business operator may receive a license.
A cannabis delivery business is the only marketplace class that is not permitted to operate in Freehold Borough.
According to the proposed amended ordinance, alternative treatment centers will be permitted to operate in the same locations as cannabis retailers: commercial manufacturing zones and modified commercial zones on lots fronting Throckmorton Street, and between the intersection of Throckmorton and Rhea streets west to the borough limits; in office commercial zones, limited professional office zones and general commercial zones on lots fronting Park Avenue (Route 33) and between the intersection of Park Avenue and South Street east to the borough limits; and commercial manufacturing zones and general commercial zones on lots fronting Jerseyville Avenue and between the intersection of Jerseyville Avenue and Parker Street east to the borough limits.
An alternative treatment center will not be permitted to be located within 250 feet of a licensed childcare facility or a residential childcare facility; nor within 500 feet of any public or private elementary school, middle school, high school, college or university; nor within 200 feet of a halfway house or correctional facility.
The annual license fee for an alternative treatment center will be $5,000, according to the ordinance.
Borough Council President Margaret Rogers and council members Sharon Shutzer, Michael DiBenedetto, Annette Jordan and Adam Reich voted “yes” on a motion to introduce the ordinance.
Councilman George Schnurr was absent from the Jan. 18 meeting.
Shutzer, who voted “no” when the initial cannabis ordinance was adopted, said her vote to introduce the amended ordinance was in support of cannabis regulation, not the sale of cannabis.
“I have made it clear I am against cannabis sales in town,” she said. “I will be voting ‘yes’ for the regulation that is involved here, but it is not to be interpreted as my condoning of the sale” of the substance.