Cannabis retail establishments are now allowed to operate in Hopewell Township.
Cannabis retailers are no longer prohibited from operating in the township after the Township Committee unanimously voted on an ordinance that permitted cannabis retailers.
Committee members unanimously voted to adopt the ordinance at the governing body’s April 18 meeting.
“This ordinance imposes many of the same requirements that the township imposes on cultivators and manufacturers, such as security measures, pollen and seed control, and locations,” said Scott Miccio, attorney for Hopewell Township from the law firm Parker McCay. “Under this ordinance, cannabis retail would be a conditional use and the number of cannabis retail establishments will be limited to two.”
Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning, Deputy Mayor Michael Ruger, Township Committeeman Kevin Kuchinski, Township Committeewoman Uma Purandare, and Township Committeeman David Chait voted “yes” to the ordinance’s adoption.
“One of the reasons that cannabis is legalized is because there are better tests in purity. You know you are getting a product that is not adulterated,” Ruger said. “Second, the use instructions are with the product, so there is no guess work. Third, the industry is doing what it can so that people are not ingesting more than they should.”
He added that there are a lot of people who consumed marijuana before it was legal and none of them bought it legally.
“If people are going to consume it, I would much rather see them buy it legally in an unadulterated product and in pre-measured portions that are going to be a lot safer,” Ruger said.
Only two cannabis retailers are allowed to operate in Hopewell Township. According to the ordinance, two is the maximum set by the township.
Also, cannabis delivery services are only permitted by the township if the services are located and owned by a cannabis retail business.
Cannabis retailers and delivery services will be able to operate in the neighborhood retail commercial district (C-1), highway business and office district (HBO), shopping center district (SC), shopping center 1 district (SC1), and the industrial and commercial district.
According to the ordinance the hours of operation are restricted to 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. and cannabis consumption areas continue to be prohibited in the township.
Under the new ordinance, cannabis retailers cannot have a drive-through facility; their cannabis products cannot be visible from the public sidewalk, public street or right-of-way; and must prevent all odors from the retail business.
Hopewell Township has already constructed regulations for cannabis cultivation and manufacturing in the VRC Zone. The township only allows for one cannabis business for cultivation and manufacturing.
A single company or business that holds both cultivation and manufacturing licenses is permitted as long as they both are on the same site.
Following the ordinance adoption allowing cannabis retailers in the township, the governing body then introduced an ordinance that clarifies that a cannabis retail business must specifically be 1,000 feet from any school, school athletics fields and school playgrounds and that it does not apply to all playgrounds and athletic fields in the township.
A public for this ordinance is set for May 2.
“One concern we had about that is I know it is a cutthroat business cannabis in New Jersey right now. We were trying to avoid someone putting up a playground next to business in order to prevent a cannabis business from being located there,” Peters-Manning said. “We just wanted to make clear that we were 100% clear that we were just talking about schools, school athletic fields and school playgrounds.”
The introduced ordinance now heads to the Planning Board for review before it returns before the Township Committee for a public hearing.