Even before New Jersey lawmakers have completed drafting a cannabis legalization bill, 36 towns in the state have preemptively banned legal marijuana.
Legislators in the Garden State are currently working on legislation that would legalize the recreational-use and sale of cannabis. Most drafts have included provisions allowing municipalities to ban marijuana businesses, and so far, nearly 40 towns have done so.
In Atlantic County, the towns of Brigantine and Pleasantville have already passed ordinances banning pot businesses. Towns in Bergen County that have done the same include: Carlstadt, East Rutherford, Franklin Lakes, Garfield, Hasbrouck Heights, Lodi, Mahwah, Midland Park, Woodcliff Lake, and Wyckoff Township. Upper Saddle River, also in Bergen County, passed an ordinance opposing cannabis legalization but has not enacted a ban on cannabis businesses.
North Caldwell in Essex County has already said no to recreational cannabis, while in Hudson County, Secaucus, Union City, and Weehawken have as well.
The towns of Cranbury and Old Bridge in Middlesex County have also enacted preemptive bans on marijuana businesses. Spotswood also opposes legalization, but has not outlawed recreational cannabis businesses.
In Monmouth County, the list includes Hazlet, Oceanport, Upper Freehold, Wall, and the town of West Long Branch.
In Morris County, Chatham Township has already passed a ban and Parsippany-Troy Hills passed an ordinance that opposes the legalization of cannabis but does not actually ban commercial businesses.
Ocean County municipalities that have banned pot companies include Barnegat, Berkely, Point Pleasant Beach, and Surf City. In Passaic County, the towns of Clifton, Hawthorne, and North Haledon have all passed similar ordinances.
Manville in Somerset County has also banned marijuana companies from doing businesses in its jurisdiction and the town of Bridgewater has formally opposed the legalization of recreational cannabis in New Jersey.
Draft Bill Released Last Week
Last week, a draft of the cannabis legalization bill being written by New Jersey lawmakers was released to the media. In addition to legalizing the use, possession, and sale of cannabis for adults 21 and older, the bill also includes provisions that would make it one of the most progressive in the United States.
The bill specifically calls for relatively low retail taxes of about 10 percent, a rate that is one of the lowest in the country. Lower taxes help fledgling marijuana businesses compete with an already entrenched black market, cannabis advocates argue.
The draft bill also includes the legalization of retail recreational marijuana dispensaries, avoiding the situation in some states that have legalized cannabis but not a legal supply chain to buy it. Home delivery options would also be included in the authorization of retail sales. The bill as written also includes the legalization of cannabis smoking lounges for the public social consumption of marijuana.
The measure also includes several provisions to help even the playing field for parties interested in starting a business in the coming legal New Jersey cannabis market. The bill would set aside 25 percent of licenses for cannabis businesses for women, minority, and veteran applicants. Ten percent more would be for so-called micro-businesses to provide opportunity for small operators.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has called on legislators to finish work on a cannabis legalization bill before the end of the year. The New Jersey Senate may vote on a version of the bill as soon as next month.