WNY permits one recreational cannabis establishment

Secaucus has passed a tax on medical cannabis sales in town

WNY will allow one cannabis retail shop.
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WNY will allow one cannabis retail shop.

The West New York Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to adopt an ordinance permitting one cannabis retailer in town.

The establishment would be within the newly formed Cannabis Overlay Zone, which encompasses properties currently designated C-R, Retail Service Commercial on Bergenline Ave., between 49th and 55th streets.

It 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.

Public hearing 

Hugh Giordano, a representative of the United Food and Commercial Workers union, was the only member of the public to speak during the public hearing. Giordano has been an advocate for recreational cannabis at council meetings across the state, including in Bayonne.

The UFCW represents cannabis workers, according to Giordano, who applauded the board for permitting one retail establishment at its Aug. 4 meeting. According to Giordano, these establishments bring good jobs and will do so in West New York.

Giordano asked the board to consider following Bayonne’s lead when it came to licensing. It considers an applicant’s history and background, according to Giordano, which can help weed out bad neighbors.

Mayor Gabriel Rodriguez thanked Giordano for his comment and for attending the meeting.

The board also introduced an ordinance regarding medical cannabis establishments, with a public hearing scheduled for next month. For more information, go to westnewyork.org and click on the calendar webpage.

Secaucus looks to ban non-medical pot shops

Secaucus is looking to say no to recreational cannabis establishments. The Secaucus town council has introduced an ordinance that would prohibit cannabis establishments, except for delivery services located outside of town.

The only exception would be medical cannabis establishments. Secaucus is home to what is thought to be the only medical cannabis dispensary in Hudson County: Harmony Dispensary.

“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 at the council’s June meeting. 

While the council was set to hold a public hearing on the matter at its July meeting, it did not act on the ordinance pending further approval from the planning board.

The council did however vote on another matter related to cannabis at the meeting. The council voted unanimously to adopt a two-percent tax on medical cannabis, the “Medical Cannabis Transfer Tax.”

“In the state regulations, you’re allowed to tax cannabis,” Jeffas said at the council’s July 27 meeting. “The ordinance is just putting a mechanism in place, whereby any of the medical cannabis… We have a dispensary in town… We would be authorized to collect the tax on the sales they generate out of Secaucus.”

And the rest of Hudson?

WNY joins BayonneJersey CityHoboken, and North Bergen in looking to allow recreational cannabis establishments.

Secaucus, when it adopts its ordinance, will join Union City, Weehawken and Guttenberg in passing bans on cannabis establishments other than medical dispensaries. Most of the municipalities that are passing these prohibition ordinances are doing so as placeholders.

Municipalities must 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 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.