NEW PROVIDENCE, NJ – Mayor Al Morgan and the Borough Council held a working session via Zoom on Tuesday, Apr. 13 prior to the regular council meeting to discuss Senate Bill 21 which legalized the sale and use of recreational cannabis in New Jersey. Municipalities may opt-out from hosting cannabis related businesses in town. However, such local ordinances must be enacted by Aug. 22, 2021.
Borough Attorney Paul Rizzo explained that the law has six classes of businesses which the municipality may either allow or prohibit. The classes are listed as follows:
o Cannabis Cultivator license
o Cannabis Manufacturer license
o Cannabis Wholesaler license
o Cannabis Distributor license
o Cannabis Retailer license
o Cannabis Delivery license
Rizzo noted that time is running out for municipalities to act. If the municipality does nothing, all cannabis businesses will be permitted for five years. He recommended banning all listed classes as it is “a safer route.” The municipality has the option to revisit the ban and amend its ordinance if it so chooses. However, he pointed out that the municipality cannot control home deliveries of cannabis products coming from outside the borough.
Morgan said that he prefers banning all cannabis business in the borough. Other council members agreed. Councilwoman Nadine Geoffroy explained that she had attended a Zoom event “Weeding Out the Facts” highlighting issues that took place in Colorado after marijuana was legalized. She listed spikes in DWI incidents, suicide rates, and mental health related incidents among other issues. She noted that according to the program for every dollar the state gained from the marijuana business it ended up spending four dollars to mitigate the consequences of cannabis usage.
Rizzo will write up an ordinance draft for the council to review. The ordinance draft will also be reviewed by the Planning Board before the council makes its final vote on the ordinance draft.
Additionally, the council discussed Senate Bill 3522 regarding the Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS). The bill allows PERS funds to be created separately for state employees and for county and municipal employees. Rizzo explained that the new law is not changing how the retirement is funded, but it allows the local funds to be controlled by a local board without state involvement.