Aug. 21 is the NJ deadline for local marijuana bans — towns are making moves
The clock has restarted for New Jersey towns and cities that don't want any part of the state's law on recreational marijuana use.
A number of municipalities have already declared a local ban on weed sales or distribution, or are in the process of doing so, after having their original bans made null and void by the law signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in February.
"If a municipality is going to opt out, that opt-out needs to happen by August 21, 2021," said Brittany Bonetti, an associate with the Healthcare and Cannabis Law Practice Groups of Cooper Levenson in Atlantic City. "If they miss this deadline, they cannot enact another prohibiting ordinance for five years."
Towns that do choose to implement a ban ahead of the deadline can scratch their rule and opt in to the adult-use market at any point.
According to Jersey Shore Online, Toms River officials are on their way to enforcing a ban on local sales and distribution. One council member, though, noted that their ban doesn't have to be a permanent thing — close to two-thirds of Toms River residents voted "yes" on the ballot in November to legalize recreational pot, and officials just want to make sure they get their "ducks in a row" and do what's best for their citizens, he said in the article.
Officials in Orange took a preliminary vote in March to ban recreational marijuana sales, but residents are fighting the proposed move, according to NJ.com. Less than 10 miles away, officials in Nutley are considering a ban and will hold a public hearing on June 1, Patch reported.
Ocean City already has a ban in place, approved unanimously with a City Council vote in April. In an emailed comment to New Jersey 101.5, a city spokesman said dispensaries don't fall in line with Ocean City’s brand as “America’s Greatest Family Resort.”
Whether or not towns permit dispensaries, they do not have the power to prohibit delivery of cannabis.
Towns are permitted to implement local taxes on cannabis business, capped at certain percentages, Bonetti noted.
"This is, kind of, to try to get municipalities to buy into the cannabis industry," Bonetti said.