RARITAN, NJ - The Raritan Borough council decided to introduce an ordinance permitting the sale of medicinal cannabis only to counteract a statewide law permitting the sale of recreational cannabis.

The decision stems from a need to draft borough specific regulations by August. Municipalities in New Jersey have 180 days following the enactment of the law that legalized recreational use of cannabis for adults to draft rules and regulations for their town.

Should the borough council fail to pass regulations by ordinance to prohibit, limit or restrict cannabis establishments, businesses meeting state guidelines would be permitted to open retail establishments in the commercial zone of town.

In the past, the council passed a resolution stating that, should the borough permit the sales of medicinal cannabis, one company, Middle Valley Partners Inc, would hold the monopoly on the industry in Raritan.

Middle Valley Partners Inc. is still awaiting its permit to be approved from the state. Sarah Trent, the owner of Middle Valley Partners Inc, stated at a previous council meeting that she expects to hear back by June of this year.

During the borough council’s April 13 meeting, recreational cannabis was discussed, but some council members admitted that they were not knowledgeable enough to make a decision. They moved to come prepared to make a final decision on April 27.

The news of councilwoman Melissa Harris’s resignation changed these plans, however. Councilman Pablo Orozco suggested they wait to hear the forthcoming council person's opinion before making a decision.

“I move that we move that conversation to when the new councilperson is here because I think that their opinion on this should be heard as well,” Orozco said.

Mayor Zachary Bray suggested introducing an ordinance previously drafted by the Raritan Borough Planning Board mapping permissions for sales of medical cannabis in the borough.

“If we passed that ordinance that was crafted by the planning board already, it takes care of the satisfaction of having something on the books by August,” Bray said, “but also still leaves us with the opportunity and option to adjust it come the time when we’re approached by someone who potentially wants to run a recreational facility.”

Drafting the ordinance now will give the council the ability to adjust the rules in the future.

“A comprehensive job was done on that ordinance and it's already been reviewed and referred by the planning board,” said borough attorney Bill Robertson. “So it could be introduced and ultimately adopted on whatever timeline the council chooses.”

Members of the council agreed on the introduction of the ordinance.

“Hopefully, Middle Valley Partners will obtain their license to operate the medical facility and then come back looking for permission for the recreational facility on top of that,” Bray said. “It gives us the ability to cover all of our bases so that we’re not scrambling come August.”

The ordinance permitting the sale of medicinal cannabis in Raritan Borough will be introduced at the next borough council meeting on May 11.