New Jersey municipalities may get more time to decide if cannabis businesses are welcome or banned from within their borders.
Assembly Bill 5921, introduced June 21, would provide government officials with an additional 60 days beyond the current Aug. 21 deadline to enact an ordinance welcoming or blocking adult-use cannabis businesses from opening and operating within their communities. The deadline was written into the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, signed by Gov. Phil Murphy on Feb. 22.
Assemblyman Christopher Tully, D-District 38, introduced the new bill.
“This is a needed extension that would provide municipalities the time to adequately address the complex issues associated with the coming adult-use cannabis industry, and would allow the towns that understand the potential benefits of the industry to enact thoughtful ordinances that balance the competing interests at issue,” said cannabis attorney Dan McKillop, partner at Scarinci Hollenbeck. “But this extension will only be truly helpful to towns if it becomes effective very quickly and if the Cannabis Regulatory Commission adopts regulations for the industry by the current deadline of Aug. 21.
“If the CRC [Cannabis Regulatory Commission] meets this deadline, municipalities will then be able to consider both the statute [CREAMMA] and its implementing regulations in making their decisions,” McKillop said. “If the CRC does not, municipalities will be in the same position that they are right now and the effect of the extension will have been to simply delay meaningful progress.”
Since February, dozens of municipalities statewide have introduced ordinances to keep legal cannabis businesses out of town. In November, approximately two-thirds of New Jerseyans voted in favor of legalizing adult-use cannabis.
New Jersey CannaBusiness Association President Edmund DeVeaux issued a statement on June 23 in support of Tully’s legislation, noting that the confusion over municipal guidelines has been “clear since February.”
“The NJCBA is in conversations with several communities as to how to best deal with the looming opt-in/opt-out deadline. Supporting the extension is one more way the NJCBA supports municipalities in ensuring the state develops a responsible, sustainable, diverse, and profitable cannabis industry,” DeVeaux said. “Moreover, this provides additional support for the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, faced with the immense task of creating an agency and an industry.”