Committee members have postponed a decision on issuing a second resolution of support for cannabis retail after hearing a presentation from Jersey Meds Management.
The next Township Committee meeting is on June 13, but it has not yet been determined if the resolution will appear on the agenda.
When the Hopewell Township governing body convened for its meeting on May 16, they heard from representatives of Jersey Meds Management, who are seeking a resolution of support for a cannabis retail establishment.
With Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning recusing herself from the discussion, a majority of the committee members were in favor of carrying the discussion and vote on the resolution in order to have to time to review additional reports, information and website and marketing claims before voting.
“I do not feel in light of the discussion that I have enough information to make a fully informed decision,” Committeeman Kevin Kuchinski said.
Committeewoman Uma Purandare also agreed with carrying the resolution.
“I need to have a little bit more information gathering for myself before I am ready to vote yes,” she said.
The Jersey Meds proposed location on 2566 Pennington Road in Pennington is 1,900 square feet, and housed within a retail shopping plaza.
“Currently, Jersey Meds leases property on 2566 Pennington Road. I know it’s Pennington, but it is actually Hopewell Township,” said Sheila Mints, attorney for Jersey Meds. “The proposed location for the cannabis retail facility will be where Jersey Meds currently has its CBD business. It has a separate entrance from all the stores in the mall.”
According to Jersey Meds presentation, the plaza has ample off-street parking that is adequate for the needs of the business. Located in the C-1 zone, the potential retail establishment is more than 1,000 feet from local schools, playgrounds and athletic fields.
The planned daily hours of operation would be 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
“There is a security guard in the entrance area that checks the ID of every person coming in. There is a check-in area. Once people have been approved to go into the location they will go through another set of doors,” Mints said. “The main retail sales floor is set up like an Apple store. It is a kiosk model and there will not be product on display other than perhaps very minimal in glass and cabinets.”
Jersey Meds is currently a CBD store. CBD is a key component of medical marijuana.
Deputy Mayor Michael Ruger voiced concerns after the presentation about the descriptions and images on the Jersey Meds website.
“Looking at the website under pre-rolls and blunts I see sherbet hybrid again which appears to be a marijuana leaf and the description,” he said. “When I go to leafly.com, which is a website one uses to purchase cannabis legally, and Jersey Meds does not link to it for selling cannabis I am not saying that, but I noticed the description of the product is virtually word-for-word the same. It’s this mix to make it look like what you are selling is somehow THC.”
If you are trying for best practices that seems to be a change in your business model, Ruger added.
“If one consumes a CBD product they feel an anti-inflammatory effect through their entire body that translates as wellness and relaxation. There is a reason people are purchasing these products,” said Ellie Siegel, the applicant’s cannabis consultant from Longview Strategic.
“To say that it is misinformation I do not think is accurate. Yes, in these descriptions there is marketing and sound appealing to a consumer, but I do not think that is interpreted as misinformation to someone purchasing the product.”
There is no confusion when you use a CBD product, Siegel said.
Jersey Meds Management was previously granted a resolution of support by the Pennington Council in April.
Ruger asked if Jersey Meds were to get the conditional license if they would commit to Hopewell Township over Pennington.
Mints said, “Yes we will. We have been in Hopewell Township for the last 16 years, so if we get a conditional license and it is approved and we get a resolution from Hopewell Township, we would commit to Hopewell Township.”