Hopewell Borough permits cannabis retail following months of discussions

New Jersey Could Have Legalized Recreational Marijuana Before The End Of The Year

A recreational cannabis business can operate in Hopewell Borough.

This comes following months of discussions, review and public input, which Borough Council members and Mayor Paul Anzano requested.

The Hopewell Borough Council adopted an ordinance Sept. 8 allowing recreational cannabis and delivery service operations.

Council President Charles Morehouse, Councilman David Mackie, Councilman Chris Fossel, Councilwoman Debra Stuhler and Councilwoman Samara McAuliffe voted “yes” to adopt the ordinance after additional public comments and input during the public hearing.

Councilman Ryan Kennedy was absent from the meeting.

The ordinance permits one cannabis retailer and unlimited cannabis delivery service businesses in the borough’s Service Zone. A cannabis retailer is also permitted in the B-R Business Zone.

However, borough officials are only allowing for one cannabis retailer to operate in the borough.

“If we think this thing is as dangerous as it might be, then a highly regulated, highly controlled substance is safer for our children and our people,” Morehouse said.

“That is the primary driving force behind any justification that I can have for having it in our community. A regulated source is a better source.”

Mackie said he has “always been agnostic about [recreational cannabis business] from the beginning.”

“The business argument is the strongest one for me,” he said. “We went through this process and analysis and another analysis. You do not want to overly restrict it, but you do want to have certain amounts of controls.”

Hopewell Borough will only be issuing one resolution of support for an applicant seeking to operate a cannabis retailer in the borough, according to the ordinance.

The Council issuing resolutions of support for unlimited cannabis delivery service operations.

“Right now, with the way the ordinance is drafted, you are going to have the authority to add specificity to the actual application,” said Lisa Maddox, attorney for Hopewell Borough.

“You have broad guidelines to the ordinance. Right now, the ordinance provides that applications applying first [have to be] deemed complete. Once they are deemed complete, you get into the application evaluation.”

Evaluation criteria includes financial sustainability, community benefits, local hiring process, promotion of diverse ownership structure and environmental sustainability.

“The highest scoring applicants will then be referred to Council for consideration on the issuance of a resolution of support,” Maddox said.

The borough will receive a $2,000 application fee for each of the permitted licenses [cannabis retailer and cannabis delivery service]. The application fees will be nonrefundable.

The annual registration license fee for both is also $2,000 each, but would be refunded if the applicant does not receive a license.

Some conditional uses for a cannabis retailer include: operating hours from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily; must store all cannabis products indoors and onsite; consumption of cannabis products is not allowed on the establishments premises and no cannabis should be visible from a public sidewalk, public street or right-of-way.

Cannabis delivery service conditional uses include: no consumption of cannabis products on business premises, cannabis items cannot be stored at the business or left unattended in vehicles. This will prevent odors from escaping the inside of the establishment, officials said.