RARITAN, NJ - With the borough council still holding off on making any definitive decisions regarding a marijuana dispensary, one company owner is looking for answers as she tries to find real estate in Raritan.
Sarah Trent, founder of Middle Valley Partners, spoke before the council May 14 to try and get more information about her request to open a medical marijuana dispensary in the borough.
“I am trying to get real estate in Raritan to open a medical cannabis dispensary,” she said. “I want to work within what the council wants.”
Trent initially came before the board in 2018 regarding opening a dispensary, in the hopes of getting direction from the borough about whether they would allow such a business in town.
At the time, Trent had said, the state department of health had an existing framework for medical cannabis, and issued a notice that there would be a three-stage request process for an application to sell it. She said she is only interested in selling, not growing marijuana.
At that point, the borough council tabled a resolution regarding an opinion on the legalization of recreational marijuana, but has said it would probably support medical marijuana. The council and planning board have yet to come to a determination about allowing a dispensary in the borough.
Mayor Charles McMullin said in late April that the planning board has ceased its study of whether the borough should allow for medical marijuana facilities in town until the passage of any legislation at the state level regarding marijuana.
Trent said this month that she is still trying to get some direction.
“I am not looking to open on Main Street, I am looking to open in an appropriate and potentially approved zone by the planning board,” she said.
At this point, Trent said, she does not believe anything substantial is happening in Trenton regarding the legalization of marijuana, but the state Department of Health is preparing new guidelines regarding licenses for cannabis. Those guidelines, she said, are expected to be released May 20.
“I hope that will give the town peace of mind that what I am asking for will be backed by Trenton,” she said.
Councilman Paul Giraldi said the biggest issue is recreational marijuana, not medicinal.
Trent said that for now, she wants to open only a medical marijuana dispensary, though she eventually hopes to apply for a recreational license.
“I hope to do that once I have proved to you that I can operate successfully in a highly regulated market,” she said. “And I hope if I prove that, you will grant me the access.”
Trent’s attorney said that if a law is passed in the state legalizing recreational marijuana, towns would have six months to adopt any new restrictions, from limiting its use to certain zones to outright banning it in the town limits. Medical marijuana facilities would not be grandfathered in, they would still have to apply for a license and adhere to the terms of the town if they were approved.
Giraldi said that those are the theories of what will happen, but the borough won’t know for sure until legislation is passed.
“I believe my colleagues are looking for certainty,” McMullin said. “By not having certainty, that’s a problem, that’s why we have decided to wait.”
The council continued to opt to wait on any decisions regarding the allowance for cannabis dispensaries in the borough.