CANNABIS GREEN LIGHT

An ordinance permitting the retail and wholesale sale, cultivation and manufacture of recreational marijuana in town was approved Monday night by the Mount Laurel Township Council.

The Mount Laurel ordinance calls for the maximum local tax allowed under state law: separate 2% levies on each sale by retailers, manufacturers or cultivators and 1% on each sale by wholesalers.

Douglas Cooper of Camber Lane asked if there were plans to set aside tax revenue for drug treatment or similar programs.

Mayor Stephen Steglik said that when the Township begins to see revenue coming in, decisions will be made on where it should go.

"It's hard to say how much money is going to come in from this," Steglik said. 

Under the local ordinance, the marijuana businesses may operate in commercial or industrial zones, but cannot locate closer than 1,000 feet from schools, child-care centers, houses of worship, public parks, behavioral health-care facilities or residential medical detoxification centers.

The Council had approved the ordinance at its first reading on May 24 and the Planning Board endorsed it last week, saying it was in compliance with the Township Master Plan. The only member of the public to speak on the ordinance Monday night was Cooper.

Municipalities across New Jersey are wrestling with whether or not to permit marijuana sales within their borders. They have until August 21, when the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission will disclose the state regulations. A municipality that does not vote by the deadline automatically opens its commercial and industrial districts to marijuana businesses with no local restrictions. Some communities already have voted to ban sales.

New Jersey voters across last November overwhelmingly decided to permit recreational marijuana use and sales. The recreational use is limited to people 21 years and older.