Secaucus says ‘No’ to recreational cannabis establishments

The ordinance may be replaced by another in the future

Only medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed for now
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Only medical marijuana dispensaries will be allowed for now

At a special meeting, just days before the state deadline, the Secaucus Town Council voted to adopt an ordinance prohibiting recreational cannabis establishments.

Municipalities across New Jersey had until Aug. 21 to make a decision on whether or not to prohibit recreational cannabis establishments. If the deadline passes, and a municipality does not act, all recreational cannabis establishments will automatically be permitted under state laws.

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 got its approval and passed the ordinance at its special meeting on August 18.

Saying no, for now

The ordinance prohibits all 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.

According to Town Administrator Gary Jeffas, the ordinance is essentially a placeholder. 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.

The council may vote on an ordinance formulated by the town without the pressure of an impending deadline by the state. That ordinance will flesh out the town’s policies in full, as opposed to the ordinance being rushed or the town being subject to the state’s policies if it didn’t act.

Enacting a sales tax

At the July 27 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 meeting. “The ordinance is just putting a mechanism in place, whereby any of the medical cannabis… We have a dispensary in town… would be authorized to collect the tax on the sales they generate out of Secaucus.”

Secaucus joins 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 also doing so as placeholders.

Meanwhile, Bayonne, Jersey City, Hoboken, North Bergen and West New York will allow some forms of recreational cannabis establishments.

WNY eyes medical cannabis?

West New York is also looking to permit medical cannabis establishments.

The West New York Board of Commissioners voted to introduce an ordinance that would change the zoning, in terms of the permitted land uses, to include medical cannabis dispensaries in the C-R Retail District, Service Commercial District, and Controlled Waterfront Development District. The board voted unanimously at its August meeting.

Any medical cannabis dispensary shall be required to submit an application for a license, accompanied by a fee of $6,000, with all documentation as set forth in the application. The annual license renewal fee, payable on the first day of January of each calendar year, is $15,000.

The ordinance does not specify a limit to the number of licenses. But the town is permitting only one recreational cannabis establishment, with similar application and renewal fees.

The town’s ordinance would collect two percent of the receipts from each sale by a medical cannabis dispensary.

The ordinance will be up for a public hearing at the board meeting on Sept. 4 at 6 p.m., held remotely. For more information, go to the town’s website at westnewyork.org and click on the event on the calendar webpage.

Read the ordinance online at: www.westnewyorknj.org/_Content/pdf/ordinances/Ord1621.pdf.

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.