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North Bergen further defines parameters of local cannabis industry

A recently adopted ordinance lays out more rules and guidelines in the township

Only three cannabis cultivators are permitted in North Bergen.

The North Bergen Board of Commissioners has adopted an ordinance amending the township’s pre-existing cannabis ordinance to further define regulations and restrictions.

The ordinance amends the original ordinance adopted in July to set forth specific provisions for cannabis microbusinesses, set additional limits on the number of cannabis businesses in the township, include medical cannabis related businesses within various requirements of the ordinance, and provide additional factors to be considered by the Cannabis Committee in evaluating cannabis business applications.

In order to operate any cannabis business in North Bergen, an entity will first need permits or licenses from both the state and township. The township will issue its license, valid for one year, through the Cannabis Committee consisting of the Township Administrator, Chief of Police, and the Director of Community Improvement, or their designees.

According to the ordinance, there will still be only two township-issued licenses issued to cannabis retailers, defined as establishments where “cannabis items and related supplies are sold to consumers.” But now micro-businesses and medical cannabis dispensaries will count toward the two-retailer limit.

“Those are smaller operations with a smaller number of employees, 2,500 square feet or less,” Township Counsel Tom Kobin said when the ordinance was introduced. “One of the changes we made is to say that if we have a micro-business, it counts against the cap of authorized licenses.”

One retailer will be located north of 43rd Street on Tonnelle Avenue and the other south of it. They cannot be within 1,000 feet of each other nor within the range of any school.

Limiting the number of licenses

The new ordinance will limit licenses for cannabis cultivators, distributors, manufacturers, and wholesalers permitted in the township’s industrial districts. There will be three licenses issued for each type, with one of each being a micro-business.

“We want to make sure we proceed cautiously, with baby steps, with respect to the cultivators, manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors,” Kobin said.

Under the ordinance, micro-businesses will not be permitted to expand to a standard license. Medical cannabis cultivators or wholesalers will be permitted and also count toward the three-license limit for each type.

Cannabis delivery services and consumption areas are still prohibited. In total, there can be up to 14 establishments including two retailers, three cultivators, three wholesalers, three manufacturers, and three distributors.

“We’re being cautious,” Mayor Nicholas Sacco said. “Many municipalities have turned down any cannabis use in their town, any retail, or growing, or cultivating. So it’s 70 percent out. We are one of the 30 percent that are in. I think it’s something that is the right thing to do. It’s allowed in New Jersey, and we should at least reap the benefits financially of having it in our borders.”

Officials said that the ordinance will likely be amended again in the future as the township continues to navigate the emerging industry. The board voted unanimously to adopt the ordinance at its Dec. 9 meeting.

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.