Council Adopts Ordinance to "Opt Out" on Cannabis

Citing Lack of Clear NJ Cannabis Rules, Council Adopts Ordinance to "Opt Out"
ROBBINSVILLE, NJ - (July 22, 2021) - By a 5-0 vote Thursday, Township Council adopted Ordinance 2021-21 opting out of allowing cannabis businesses in Robbinsville in another step toward addressing New Jersey legislation passed in February legalizing recreational marijuana.

Robbinsville has opted out of all licensing classes available through the new cannabis legislation signed by Gov. Phil Murphy, but the governing body can still vote to opt-in regarding one, or all of the licenses at any juncture.   

The primary reason for the ordinance - introduced on June 24 - Council President Mike Cipriano, Ron Witt and Vice President Vince Calcagno each stated, was the absence of concrete rules and regulations.

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"Without a full understanding of the rules being rolled out, I think it is prudent we take the "opt-out" scenario," Mr. Witt said. "We can always opt back in very quickly in the event the state clarifies its position."

Dialogue will continue as to what Township officials and residents want to be allowed, or prohibited, when it comes to recreational cannabis businesses locating and operating in the Township.

"Our residents are in support of (the new cannabis legalization legislation), but I know they are also in support of this town and they don't want us to make any rash decisions when it comes to this very vague law the way that it reads," Mr. Cipriano said back on June 24.

Under the new legislation municipalities must vote to opt-out of allowing businesses to operate under the six newly-created licenses by August 21, 2021 - six months after the initial legislation was signed. If a municipality fails to take any action by August 21, all six classes of licenses will automatically be allowed in the municipality, subject to certain zoning restrictions depending upon the class of license.
After August 21 municipalities will be locked into any decision they make concerning the licenses for five years. Municipalities can decide to opt-in at any time, then will be held to the five-year rule, under current legislation.

The law establishes cannabis as the name for substance produced and consumed legally and marijuana as the illegally produced, sold or consumed substance.

Under PL 2021, c. 16 “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization Act” six classes of licenses were created. Municipalities can choose to opt out of any or all of the classes of licenses.

The licenses are:
* Class 1 – Cannabis Cultivator; grows, cultivates or produces cannabis and sells and may transport to other cannabis growers, processors, wholesalers or retailers but not consumers. There will be no more than 37 cultivator licenses issued in New Jersey in the first two years.
* Class 2 – Cannabis Manufacturer; processes cannabis items by purchasing or obtaining cannabis, manufacturing, preparing and packaging cannabis items and selling and optionally transporting the items to other cannabis processors, wholesalers or retailers but not consumers.
Class 3 - Cannabis Wholesaler; purchase or obtain, store, sell or transfer and possibly transport cannabis items for resale or other transfer to wholesaler or retailer but not to consumers.
Class 4 – Cannabis Distributor; transports cannabis items in bulk intrastate, from one licensed establishment to another and may temporarily store, as necessary.
Class 5 – Cannabis Retailer; purchase or obtain cannabis from other licensed entities in the state to sell to consumers, may use a cannabis delivery service or certified cannabis handler for delivery, consumers must purchase from a retailer to have cannabis delivered.
Class 6 - Cannabis Delivery Service; provide courier services of cannabis purchased from a retailer, make deliveries of cannabis items and related supplies to consumers, retailer can use third party technology platform to receive, process and fulfill orders for delivery.

Municipalities cannot stop cannabis items and supplies from being delivered to consumers within their borders (from other towns), according to the law. The taxes are levied at the local level based on the type of license and are a percentage of receipts of each sale. Class 1, 2 and 5 can be taxed at a maximum of 2% and Class 3 at a maximum of 1% by local municipalities. The municipality must collect the taxes directly from the licensee and can be handled like property taxes. Bulk transportation and delivery service to consumers is not taxed.

Businesses must have at least one New Jersey resident who has lived in the state for at least two years “significantly involved” on the license application. Licensees must be 21-years-old and will be fingerprinted and have a criminal background check.

In evaluating the license, the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission cannot consider conviction of a crime involving controlled dangerous substances or illegal drugs that occurred before the law was passed, according to the New Jersey Attorney General's published information.

The Commission is currently meeting to promulgate additional rules that will apply to licensees under the law, as well as municipalities. At this time those additional rules have not been issued by the Commission.
© 2022 • Robbinsville Township, NJ • 2298 Route 33, Robbinsville, NJ 08691 • (609) 259-3600
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