Union City prohibits recreational pot establishments

Other Hudson County towns weigh the issue

Grow operations like this are prohibited in Union City.
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Grow operations like this are prohibited in Union City.

The Board of Commissioners and the Planning Board have prohibited recreational cannabis establishments.

Mayor Brian Stack, who is also a State Senator for the 33rd Legislative District, which included Union City, defended the decision when the ordinances were introduced in April, despite voting in favor of the legislation legalizing recreational cannabis in New Jersey in the state senate.

“As a State Senator, I voted in support of the legislation because a majority of New Jerseyans are in favor of it,” Stack said in a statement. “As a mayor, I get dozens of calls a week concerning people smoking marijuana and other issues surrounding quality of life. Union City is just too densely populated to become a location for recreational sales.”

The move to ban recreational cannabis establishments comes at time when many municipalities in the county are debating how to handle the new industry. Years before November’s referendum passed, Union City was one of three municipalities that preemptively banned the sale of recreational cannabis,  Secaucus and Weehawken were the others. 

The referendum has made these bans invalid. Municipalities can establish new prohibitions banning the sale of recreational weed, but residents can light up regardless of where they live.

Countywide?

It’s unclear clear if Weehawken or Secaucus will reintroduce a ban. Secaucus is home to Harmony Dispensary, thought to be the only medical cannabis establishment in the county.

Under the new laws, the dispensary would be able to sell pot recreationally if it proves it has enough supply to support its medical patients. If Secaucus lifts its ban, Harmony could be the first dispensary to sell recreational cannabis in the county.

Harmony is looking to expand, eyeing potential locations for medical dispensaries in Hoboken and Jersey City. Both cities have been at the forefront of embracing medical and recreational cannabis.

Another medical cannabis dispensary, Terrapin, is considering opening a shop in Hoboken. Recently, the city council introduced zoning ordinances regulating the cannabis industry.

In Jersey City, the council adopted an ordinance allocating 100 percent of the 2 percent tax on medical cannabis to be deposited in the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. According to the city, four medical dispensaries are currently “in the pipeline.”

In Bayonne, the city council has approved an ordinance establishing licenses for the establishments, limiting the number to four. Ordinances further regulating the industry, such as locations, are in the works.

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.