RARITAN, NJ - The Raritan Borough Council will introduce and vote on an ordinance allowing the sale of medical cannabis and prohibiting the sale of recreational cannabis for adults in the borough at their next council meeting.
The decision continues to be pushed from previous meetings.
There is a need to craft borough specific rules surrounding the sale of recreational cannabis by August following the enactment of the law that legalized recreational use of cannabis for adults in New Jersey. State municipalities were granted 180 days to draft regulations for their town.
Borough attorney Bill Robertson echoed the importance of making a decision to ensure the deadline is met during the council’s May 11 meeting, when some council members were under the impression that an ordinance would be introduced.
“We don’t have that much time, action has to be taken,” Robertson said. “Just as a suggestion, short term, you may want to prohibit the adult recreational use in a general fashion, and then begin looking into the specifics and amend, modify if you chose to move forward with certain other establishments.”
Prior to the meeting, Robertson circled two draft ordinances to members of the council, he said. One proposed the allowance of medical cannabis sales by making a treatment center a conditional use with a variety of specific conditions, including only being permitted in B2 and B3 zones, requiring highway frontage, required state licensure and distance requirements. The second prohibits recreational cannabis in the borough.
If passed, the ordinance will prohibit the sale of recreational cannabis throughout the borough and allow the creation of a medical dispensary.
“The secondary ordinance was more a general ordinance to prohibit the adult recreational use,” Robertson said. “Now that can be amended, modified, relaxed, going forward. But at least that would not open the door to those uses town-wide or in certain zones going forward.”
A resolution is currently in place that allows Middle Valley Partners, Inc., to hold the monopoly on medical cannabis sales throughout the borough if the council allows sales.
Middle Valley Partners, Inc., has not received a permit to sell in the state and is awaiting approval. In the interim, there will be no possibilities for cannabis to be sold in Raritan Borough, even if these ordinances are passed.
As former councilwoman Melissa Harris stepped down from her role at a previous meeting, councilman Pablo Orozco suggested reopening the discussion when her replacement takes office.
Mayor Zachary Bray said he agrees with Orozco that Harris’ replacement should be involved in these discussions.
“But I thought that the majority of the governing body agreed to approve medical use and ban recreational use at this time, with the understanding that we can go back and have these discussions with that new person and change that at will whenever we decide is the appropriate time to do so,” Bray said. “Because I really am starting to worry about the timeline now.”
The ordinance prohibiting recreational dispensaries and allowing medical sales will be a placeholder. Further discussions on cannabis in Raritan Borough will occur in the future.
The ordinance prohibiting recreational sales of cannabis has been drafted and can be introduced at the next meeting, Robertson said, along with an ordinance permitting an alternative treatment facility selling medical cannabis.
The next borough council meeting will be May 25.