Freehold Borough OKs agreement for medical cannabis dispensary


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FREEHOLD – Members of the Borough Council in Freehold Borough have authorized a developer’s agreement with Monmouth Wellness and Healing, LLC (doing business as NJ Leaf), to operate a medical cannabis dispensary at 546 Park Ave., a short distance east of South Street.

Park Avenue is also known as Route 33.

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During a meeting on June 6, Borough Council President Margaret Rogers and council members Michael DiBenedetto, George Schnurr, Annette Jordan and Adam Reich voted “yes” on a motion to authorize the developer’s agreement. Councilwoman Sharon Shutzer voted “no.”

As noted in a resolution, NJ Leaf has received preliminary and final major site plan approval for the medical cannabis dispensary from the Freehold Borough Planning Board. The application for the dispensary was presented before board members in February and the resolution granting approval was memorialized in March.

Representatives of NJ Leaf testified during the hearing that the applicant was proposing to construct a 3,375-square-foot dispensary on Park Avenue.

During the hearing, NJ Leaf’s representatives said the business would only serve individuals who use medical cannabis. That specific business use was approved by board members.

If NJ Leaf wants to sell adult use cannabis as a retail, as opposed to a medical, operation, the operator’s representatives will have to return to the Planning Board to seek approval of that additional use.

On May 16, council members awarded NJ Leaf a cannabis business retail license, which is given to alternative treatment centers (medical dispensaries) under Freehold Borough’s cannabis business ordinance.

Under the ordinance, cannabis retailers and alternative treatment centers are permitted to operate in 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.

The annual license fee for a cannabis retailer or alternative treatment center is $5,000.

A maximum of two licenses may be issued for cannabis retail businesses/alternative treatment centers in Freehold Borough. The second cannabis retail license was awarded to Goldfinch NJ, LLC (doing business as Goldfinch), on May 16.

The Borough Council established regulations for cannabis businesses following the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, also known as A-21, which was approved by state legislators 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, subject to state regulation; 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.

A-21 established six marketplace classes of licensed marijuana businesses: cultivator, manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, retailer and delivery.

All of the business types with the exception of a cannabis delivery business are permitted to operate 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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