SCOTCH PLAINS, NJ -- The Scotch Plains Township Council voted unanimously to endorse the application of High Rise Botanicals (HRB) Group, which includes Scotch Plains native and local business owner Sean Flannery, who spoke at the meeting.
The group is seeking to apply to the state for a medical marijuana dispensary that would be located at the site of the San Giuliano property on Route 22 East.
Previously, the property was targeted by the Wawa chain, which proposed building a convenience store/gas station at the site located where Route 22 and Mountain Ave. meet in Scotch Plains. Wawa encountered fierce neighborhood opposition and, ultimately, had its application rejected by the Zoning Board. Several local neighborhood residents involved in that campaign also spoke at Tuesday's meeting to express their disapproval of the location for the proposed medical marijuana facility.
HRB plans to have a dispensary in Scotch Plains service central NJ and will have a grow facilty in southern NJ. The dispensaries will also engage in the sale of accessories that seek to better administer the medicinal and therapeutic benefits of medical marijuana. The sale of the property to the group is contingent on the approval for the dispensary.
Flannery told the Scotch Plains Council that the 4,000 sq. ft. facility would look like a medical facility and will have physicians on staff.
"The process is rigorous. There will only be a few grow and dispense facilities," Flannery explained. "Your prescription will be matched to a specific product. It will be an attractive building with ample parking and normal business hours. This is a community project."
"Sixty percent of NJ voters are in favor of medical marijuana. There are 12 current dispensaries with 12 more coming online and 24 more licenses to be given this year," Flannery told TAPintoSPF. "The number of prescriptions given is expected to increase by 5,000 patients per month."
Last month, the Scotch Plains Council approved the application of Chillin’ Out, which is also located on Route 22 East near the intersection of Park Ave. Mayor Al Smith has gone on the record with his support of medical marijuana to help people in pain related to cancer, chronic pain, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorders, and other illnesses.
"It's a compassionate thing," said Mayor Al Smith. "Once they get approval from the state, the normal approval process of Scotch Plains would go into effect. There will be additional processes beyond the state saying 'OK, you can do this'."
John Lama, a Rolling Knolls Road resident who was vocal against the Wawa plans several years ago, spoke on behalf of his neighbors to express that they are uncomfortable with having a marijuana dispensary so close to their homes. Additionally, Maria Ackerman, a local real estate agent, expressed concerns that a nearby marijuana dispensary might negatively impact property values. Ackerman, who said that she supports medical marijuana, but believes there are more appropriate places along Route 22 in Scotch Plains for such a facility.