CANNABIS GROWING SHUTTERSTOCK

A cannabis-growing facility.

To David Fleisher, it's about the fine print. Or, in this case, the missing fine print.

Fleisher, president of Cherry Hill Township Council, last week said the "quirkiness" of New Jersey's new law decriminalizing marijuana means municipalities deciding whether or not to welcome recreational marijuana businesses to their towns must do so without seeing the rules.

Those state rules governing cannabis retailers, wholesalers, cultivators and other businesses are not due out until August 22. But towns, cities and boroughs must make their decisions by August 21. No decision means the community is open to all classes of marijuana businesses for a period of at least five years.

"I personally don't think there's anyone in this room who would sign a contract without reading the fine print. My opinion is by enacting it before seeing the regs it would be like signing a contract without reading the fine print," Fleisher told Council members at their caucus before the meeting.

At stake are millions of dollars that communities could collect from up to 2% in local sales taxes imposed on the different kinds of businesses.  However, some local leaders worry about the potential impact of recreational marijuana outlets in their communities.

Cherry Hill's new ordinance prohibits any cannabis business from setting up shop within its borders at the outset, but in the next six months Council expects to consider allowing businesses once the rules are clear and Township leaders can see how other towns are handling the businesses. A municipality can opt-in at any time.

A resident of Cherry Hill, the second-largest municipality in South Jersey, will not have to go far to buy legal marijuana. Nearby communities such as Voorhees, Evesham, Mount Laurel, Moorestown and Pennsauken have decided to permit cannabis businesses in their communities — a five-year commitment under the state law.

A 70and73.com review of new ordinances in municipalities in South Jersey (Burlington County south to Cape May County) shows about one-third plan to allow cannabis businesses in some form within their borders. The 70and73.com survey, based mostly on legal notices, covers 149 of South Jersey's 169 municipalities. (See list below.)

Like Cherry Hill, the majority of municipalities in South Jersey are at least postponing any decision on allowing cannabis businesses to operate. 

Camden, the largest municipality in South Jersey, decided to hold off permitting cannabis businesses in the city. The city's ordinance specifies Camden leaders' concerns, stating the ban on the businesses is "due to present uncertainties regarding the potential future impacts" of allowing cannabis businesses inside the city.

Washington Township in Gloucester County — South Jersey's fifth-largest community in population — went so far as to use bullet points in its law to justify its decision to prohibit the businesses, including "a lack of clarity and direction" in the state law, "potential negative impacts upon children in the Township" and "potential detriments on residents." 

Township leaders "need more time to study and review the Act and its impact on the Township of Washington and its residents," the law states.

MARIJUANA DECISIONS

The six classes of cannabis businesses are cultivator, manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, retailer and delivery/courier services.

Some municipalities are being selective of the kinds of businesses or limiting each type of business to specific zoning districts in the community.

For example, Merchantville and Barrington, both in Camden County, will permit only marijuana retailers, but not the other classes of business. Greenwich, Cumberland County, will permit all classes except the retailers. Logan Township in Gloucester County decided to allow only cannabis manufacturers.


10 LARGEST SOUTH JERSEY MUNICIPALITIES

SOURCE: Compilation © 70and73.com, based on legal notices and news reports.

Not all municipalities have reached final decisions.  "Allow" means municipality will permit at least one class of cannabis business.

Based on 2019 population, U.S. Census Bureau

Rank Municipality County Cannabis Businesses
1 Camden Camden PROHIBIT
2 Cherry Hill Camden PROHIBIT
3 Gloucester Township Camden ALLOW
4 Vineland Cumberland ALLOW
5 Washington Township Gloucester PROHIBIT
6 Evesham Burlington ALLOW
7 Egg Harbor Township Atlantic ALLOW
8 Mount Laurel Burlington ALLOW
9 Winslow Camden ALLOW
10 Atlantic City Atlantic ALLOW

Communities cannot prohibit cannabis delivery services within their boundaries, according to a legislative briefing for local government leaders by the New Jersey League of Municipalities.

Municipalities will get a say on how businesses operate in their communities, according to the NJLM. When a firm applies to the state to do business, the state within 14 days must forward a copy of the application to the municipality.

The “municipality must determine whether the application complies with local restrictions on times of operation, location, manner and the number of cannabis businesses,” the NJLM briefing noted.

At last week's Cherry Hill Township Council meeting, several residents protested the decision to wait and see and forgo the tax dollars.

"People in Cherry Hill will be driving farther to get their cannabis and they will be giving their money to other towns. It just won't be coming to Cherry Hill," Rena Margulis of School Lane, a frequent commenter at the meetings, told the Council.

Jeff Podowitz, of Kilburn Drive, said people are focusing too much on the 1% and 2% local tax, which he said is not a lot of money. "The money that we'll be getting is negligible," he said.

"Am I in favor of it being sold in Cherry Hill? No," Podowitz said.

"I don't want people to come from Pennsylvania, come and stop at Costco and get gas and buy their stuff and then get their marijuana conveniently near Costco or near Cherry Hill Mall," he said. "If they want to go to another community, fine."

Some residents pointed out that more than two thirds of New Jersey voters last fall voted in favor of decriminalization and the recreational use by people 21 and older. That should be enough motivation for Cherry Hill, they said.

Council member Carole Roskoph said the Township already has had six months to have a plan. She has pushed for a timeline to reconsider the ban.

Roskoph said an ideal timeline would include a recommendation from the Police Department by October, a recommendation from the Community Development Department by November, a public town hall discussion by January and a decision by February.

Mayor Susan Shin Angulo said Cherry Hill was going to "hit pause" on allowing the businesses in town because it wants to wait for state rules and regulations. However, "we ultimately expect these cannabis businesses to come to the Township in some form in the future."

Council members voted 6-0 in favor, a final decision on the ordinance banning cannabis businesses, at least temporarily.

Roskoph emphasized that, despite the debate on cannabis businesses, the use of marijuana now is legal in New Jersey.

"We are not talking about consumption," Roskoph said. "If a person wants to consume on their deck in their backyard, we can't regulate that....So please don't call our police department because your neighbors are smoking on their back deck."


RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA SALES IN SOUTH JERSEY

Municipalities that are allowing or prohibiting recreational cannabis sales, cultivation and manufacture in their communities. Information based on legal notices from municipalities. In some cases, the final vote has not yet been taken. The six classes of recreational marijuana businesses are: 1. Cultivator, 2. Manufacturer, 3. Wholesaler, 4. Distributor (transporting cannabis from one business to another), 5. Retailer and 6. Delivery (courier services for consumers).

At least one class of business if permitted for those listed under "ALLOW."

 Some of the communities indicated the prohibition might be temporary because more time is needed to make a decision. The Maple Shade ordinance, for example, notes the Township needs "to ensure sufficient time to carefully review all aspects of the Act and its impacts."

Audubon Park is all residences, so no business would be permitted.

SOURCE: © 70and73.com analysis from legal notices and news reports

MUNICIPALITY COUNTY DECISION
Absecon Atlantic ALLOW
Atlantic City Atlantic ALLOW
Brigantine Atlantic PROHIBIT
Buena Vista Atlantic PROHIBIT
Corbin City Atlantic PROHIBIT
Egg Harbor City Atlantic ALLOW
Egg Harbor Township Atlantic ALLOW
Estell Manor Atlantic PROHIBIT
Galloway Atlantic ALLOW
Hamilton Atlantic ALLOW
Hammonton Atlantic ALLOW
Linwood Atlantic PROHIBIT
Longport Atlantic PROHIBIT
Margate Atlantic PROHIBIT
Mullica Township Atlantic PROHIBIT
Northfield Atlantic PROHIBIT
Pleasantville Atlantic ALLOW
Port Republic Atlantic PROHIBIT
Somers Point Atlantic PROHIBIT
Ventnor Atlantic PROHIBIT
Weymouth Atlantic PROHIBIT
Bass River Burlington ALLOW
Beverly Burlington ALLOW
Bordentown City Burlington PROHIBIT
Bordentown Township Burlington PROHIBIT
Burlington City Burlington ALLOW
Burlington Township Burlington PROHIBIT
Chesterfield Burlington PROHIBIT
Cinnaminson Burlington ALLOW
Delanco Burlington PROHIBIT
Delran Burlington ALLOW
Eastampton Burlington ALLOW
Evesham Burlington ALLOW
Fieldsboro Burlington PROHIBIT
Florence Burlington PROHIBIT
Hainesport Burlington PROHIBIT
Lumberton Burlington ALLOW
Mansfield Burlington PROHIBIT
Maple Shade Burlington PROHIBIT
Medford Burlington PROHIBIT
Medford Lakes Burlington PROHIBIT
Moorestown Burlington ALLOW
Mount Holly Burlington ALLOW
Mount Laurel Burlington ALLOW
New Hanover Burlington PROHIBIT
North Hanover Burlington PROHIBIT
Palmyra Burlington PROHIBIT
Pemberton Borough Burlington PROHIBIT
Pemberton Township Burlington ALLOW
Riverton Burlington PROHIBIT
Shamong Burlington ALLOW
Southampton Burlington PROHIBIT
Springfield Burlington PROHIBIT
Tabernacle Burlington PROHIBIT
Washington Burlington PROHIBIT
Westampton Burlington PROHIBIT
Willingboro Burlington ALLOW
Wrightstown Burlington PROHIBIT
Audubon Camden PROHIBIT
Audubon Park Camden PROHIBIT
Barrington Camden ALLOW
Bellmawr Camden PROHIBIT
Berlin Borough Camden PROHIBIT
Berlin Township Camden PROHIBIT
Camden Camden PROHIBIT
Cherry HIll Camden PROHIBIT
Chesilhurst Camden PROHIBIT
Clementon Camden PROHIBIT
Collingswood Camden ALLOW
Gibbsboro Camden ALLOW
Gloucester City Camden PROHIBIT
Gloucester Township Camden ALLOW
Haddon Heights Camden PROHIBIT
Haddon Township Camden PROHIBIT
Haddonfield Camden PROHIBIT
Hi-Nella Camden PROHIBIT
Lawnside Camden PROHIBIT
Lindenwold Camden PROHIBIT
Magnolia Camden PROHIBIT
Merchantville Camden ALLOW
Mount Ephraim Camden PROHIBIT
Oaklyn Camden ALLOW
Pennsauken Camden ALLOW
Pine Hill Camden PROHIBIT
Runnemede Camden PROHIBIT
Somerdale Camden ALLOW
Stratford Camden PROHIBIT
Voorhees Camden ALLOW
Waterford Camden ALLOW
Winslow Camden ALLOW
Woodlynne Camden PROHIBIT
Avalon Cape May PROHIBIT
Cape May City Cape May PROHIBIT
Dennis Cape May PROHIBIT
Lower Township Cape May ALLOW
Middle Township Cape May PROHIBIT
North Wildwood Cape May PROHIBIT
Ocean City Cape May PROHIBIT
Sea Isle Cape May PROHIBIT
Stone Harbor Cape May PROHIBIT
North Wildwood Cape May PROHIBIT
Upper Township Cape May PROHIBIT
West Cape May Cape May ALLOW
West Wildwood Cape May PROHIBIT
Wildwood Cape May PROHIBIT
Wildwood Crest Cape May PROHIBIT
Woodbine Cape May ALLOW
Bridgeton Cumberland ALLOW
Commercial Cumberland ALLOW
Deerfield Cumberland PROHIBIT
Downe Cumberland PROHIBIT
Greenwich Cumberland ALLOW
Hopewell Cumberland PROHIBIT
Lawrence Cumberland PROHIBIT
Maurice River Township Cumberland PROHIBIT
Millville Cumberland ALLOW
Upper Deerfield Cumberland PROHIBIT
Vineland Cumberland ALLOW
Deptford Gloucester PROHIBIT
East Greenwich Gloucester PROHIBIT
Franklin Gloucester PROHIBIT
Glassboro Gloucester PROHIBIT
Greenwich Gloucester ALLOW
Harrison Gloucester PROHIBIT
Logan Gloucester ALLOW
Mantua Gloucester PROHIBIT
Monroe Gloucester ALLOW
Newfield Gloucester PROHIBIT
Paulsboro Gloucester ALLOW
Pitman Gloucester PROHIBIT
South Harrison Gloucester PROHIBIT
Swedesboro Gloucester PROHIBIT
Washington Township Gloucester PROHIBIT
Wenonah Gloucester PROHIBIT
West Deptford Gloucester ALLOW
Westville Gloucester PROHIBIT
Woodbury Gloucester ALLOW
Woodbury Heights Gloucester PROHIBIT
Alloway Salem PROHIBIT
Carneys Point Salem ALLOW
Elsinboro Township Salem PROHIBIT
Lower Alloways Creek Salem ALLOW
Mannington Salem PROHIBIT
Oldmans Salem PROHIBIT
Penns Grove Salem PROHIBIT
Pilesgrove Salem PROHIBIT
Quinton Salem PROHIBIT
Salem Salem PROHIBIT
Upper Pittsgrove Salem PROHIBIT
Woodstown Salem PROHIBIT