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North Bergen to permit recreational cannabis establishments

North Bergen will allow recreational cannabis establishments.
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North Bergen will allow recreational cannabis establishments.

The North Bergen Board of Commissioners has adopted an ordinance permitting cannabis establishments.

Municipalities had to act on this by August 21, before cannabis establishments would automatically be permitted in every municipality that misses the deadline under the new recreational cannabis laws.

The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance at its July 14 meeting.

Limited licenses allowed

Cannabis establishments can operate in North Bergen following licensure by the state and the township. But the ordinance limits the number of retail licenses to two.

According to the ordinance, the township will permit all classes of business licenses, except those for cannabis delivery. The ordinance bans cannabis delivery services based in the township and outside.

The ordinance prohibits cannabis-consumption areas. This means no lounges to light up in.

A cannabis committee will be made up of the Township Administrator, the Chief of Police, and the Director of Community Improvement, or their designees.

The committee will evaluate license applications; evaluate requests for local support for establishments seeking state licenses; recommend to the Board of Commissioners whether or not to approve licenses; evaluate violations; and hear appeals of license suspensions or revocations.

Fees, taxes, and fines

The fees for initial license applications are $10,000 for cannabis distributor and wholesaler applications, $15,000 for cannabis retailer and manufacturer applications, and $20,000 for cannabis cultivator applications.

The fees for license renewals are $5,000 distributors and wholesalers, $7,500 for retailers and manufacturers, and $10,000 for cultivators.

The ordinance taxes sales.

There will be a two percent tax on each sale by a cultivator, a two percent tax on each sale by a manufacturer, one percent tax on each sale by a wholesaler, and a two percent tax one each sale by a retailer.

Violations of the ordinance can result in up to a $2,000 fine.

Restrictions, requirements, and locations

No cannabis establishment can be housed in a vehicle or any mobile structure. Establishments must have equipment to mitigate odor.

Outside generators and other mechanical equipment used for power, cooling, or ventilation must be enclosed and have appropriate buffers.

The township is unique in requiring establishments to have opaque barriers to shield operations. Establishments must close at 8 p.m.

The ordinance limits cannabis establishment locations to within to the Highway Commercial or Industrial zoning areas. Within the C-2 Highway Commercial district, one establishment will be permitted north of 43rd Street and the other south of it. The establishments cannot be within 1,000 feet of each other nor within 1,000 feet of a school.

WNY too?

West New York has also moved to allow cannabis establishments. The WNY Board of Commissioners voted to introduce an ordinance that would permit cannabis establishments at its July 14 meeting.

The ordinance permits one cannabis retailer establishment. It would be located within the newly formed Cannabis Overlay Zone, which encompasses properties currently designated C-R, Retail Service Commercial on Bergenline Avenue, between 49th and 55th Streets.

The establishment must be strictly retail; cultivating, manufacturing, business-to-business distribution, wholesale, or delivery to consumer operations from the facility are prohibited.

A retail license application fee is $6,000, and renewal fees are $15,000.

Unique to WNY’s ordinance, establishments cannot use imagery of or representations of a marijuana leaf. No retail cannabis or cannabis paraphernalia can be displayed in any storefront window.

The ordinance imposes the allowable two percent tax on the sale of cannabis. A public hearing will be held on Aug. 4, with more information on the town’s calendar webpage at westnewyorknj.org.

Secaucus and Weehawken say no for now

North Bergen and WNY now join Bayonne, Jersey City, and Hoboken in looking to allow recreational cannabis establishments. Weehawken has followed the path of Union City and Guttenberg in passing bans on cannabis establishments other than medical dispensaries.

Secaucus has introduced an ordinance that would do the same, as well as placing a two percent tax on medical cannabis sales. Secaucus is home to Harmony Dispensary, thought to be the only medical cannabis establishment in the county.

“The ordinance gives the town more time to get their ordinances in place, because [the state] put a very quick time frame for the turnaround for towns to set their own ordinances and regulations and not be bound by the state’s,” Secaucus Town Administrator Gary Jeffas said.

Most of the municipalities that are passing these prohibition ordinances are doing so as placeholders. If a municipality doesn’t act by the August deadline, all types of recreational establishments are permitted in that municipality for a period of five years.

The idea is that these ordinances prohibiting the establishments will uphold the status quo while municipalities work out the details of what establishments they would permit, if any at all.

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.

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