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Tinton Falls mayor voices objection to allowing cannabis businesses

TINTON FALLS – The top elected official in Tinton Falls has spoken out against borough officials’ plan to permit cannabis businesses to operate in the municipality.

During the March 1 meeting of the mayor and Borough Council, Mayor Vito Perillo voiced his opposition to the possibility a cannabis business could be licensed and permitted to operate in Tinton Falls.

In December, council members adopted an ordinance that established regulations to be followed by individuals and/or entities that would seek approval for a cannabis business license.

In Tinton Falls’ form of government, the mayor does not vote on the adoption of ordinances or the passage of resolutions. Only the council members vote on those municipal government actions.

In comments made during the meeting, Perillo said potential cannabis businesses would place a burden on the borough and lead to negative repercussions.

“I keep reminding myself of the things I learned in school,” the mayor said. “No outside source is going to conquer the United States. If we lose what we have today, it will be internally and I think this cannabis stuff is almost a start. (The businesses) don’t have to lift a finger. All they have to do is hand out the drugs free.”

Perillo said he would seek to have the borough’s attorneys determine if he has the power to rescind the cannabis ordinance and prohibit the operation of cannabis businesses in Tinton Falls.

The Borough Council established regulations for potential cannabis businesses following the enactment of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, also known as A-21.

The bill was passed by state legislators in February 2021 and signed into law by Gov. Phil Murphy after New Jersey voters in 2020 approved a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana.

The state legislation legalizes the recreational use (also known as adult use) of marijuana by 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 Tinton Falls ordinance, A-21 established six marketplace classes of licensed marijuana businesses: cultivator, manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, retailer and delivery.

In July 2021, Tinton Falls council members adopted an ordinance which prohibited all six types of cannabis businesses from operating in the borough.

However, that ordinance stated municipal officials intended to lift the prohibition on cannabis businesses upon receiving regulatory guidance from the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission they deemed adequate. That guidance was subsequently received.

The current ordinance states that the Borough Council has determined the cultivation, manufacture, wholesaling and distribution of cannabis, as well as its retail sale, present special concerns and should be permitted in appropriate locations and regulated to protect the health, safety and welfare of residents.

Under the terms of the ordinance, cannabis cultivators, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and retailers will only be permitted to operate in locations south of Pinebrook Road. Those types of businesses will only be permitted uses in the MFG manufacturing zone, the MFG-2 manufacturing zone and the Industrial Office Park zone.

A marijuana delivery service will not be permitted to operate in any zone in Tinton Falls, according to the ordinance.

However, in accordance with state law, the delivery of cannabis products and/or supplies to Tinton Falls addresses by a delivery service that is based outside the borough may not be prohibited by municipal officials.

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