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correct size blogUpdate:   On March 25, these bills were HELD from a vote because of a lack of necessary support for passage.    The legislation could be rescheduled in May.

This is the 2nd in a series of posts which will focus on particular sections and provisions of interest to local governments in S2703, legislation which will legalize the adult use of recreational cannabis.   The legislation is scheduled for final votes by the Senate and Assembly on Monday, March 25, though the final outcome is far from certain.



Section 22, Local Government Entity Regulations or Ordinances, Pages 56-58.

Link: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/S3000/2703_U1.PDF

This section authorizes municipalities to enact regulations governing the time of operation, location, manner and the number of cannabis establishments, as well as establish civil penalties for the violation of such ordinances and regulations.

A municipality may prohibit any one or more classes of cannabis licenses throughout the municipality, even if the municipality is within regions such as the Highlands, the Meadowlands or the Pinelands. In other words, a municipality could adopt an ordinance prohibiting retail establishments but permit cultivation operations.

On page 57, lines 11-14 it reads, “Only an ordinance to prohibit one or more classes of cannabis establishment enacted pursuant to the specific authority to do so by this section shall be valid and enforceable.”

Thus, any existing ordinances banning commercial marijuana sales or transactions will be null and void and the municipality will need to adopt a new ordinance to do so, which should reflect and reference this section of the law.

Municipalities will have 180 days from the effective date of the Act to opt out, by ordinance, of any one or all licenses.     The League will prepare and make sample ordinance language that can be altered for your specific purposes.

To illustrate:


OPT-OUT Deadlines/Timeframe Consideration/Reconsideration
180 days to pass ordinance to opt out of any one or all class or classes of the business. Can “opt in” at any time.
After 5 years, need to act again, either to pass again the same ordinance or to amend accordingly.



OPT IN Deadlines/Timeframe Consideration/Reconsideration
Take no action within 180 days of the Act Permitted Use in all industrial zones:  growing, cultivating, processing and selling and reselling of cannabis and cannabis items by a grower, processor or wholesaler;


Conditional Use in commercial or retail zones, subject to meeting conditions set forth in local zoning ordinance or upon granting of a variance:   retails sales.

Cannot reconsider until 5 years, when municipality may choose to opt out of one or more licenses; existing license holders grandfathered.
Nothing in bill prevents municipality opt in by ordinance;   such action may be preferred to assess local conditions and opinions.

It is our understanding and that if you opt out within 180 days of the effective date of the Act, you may opt in later by ordinance.

When the State regulatory commission receives an application for initial licensing or a renewal for any cannabis establishment or an endorsement for a cannabis consumption area, it shall notify the municipality within 7 days of the application, unless the municipality has already prohibited the class of license.       In turn the municipality must determine and inform the Commission if the application complies with the local regulations regarding time, location, and manner of operations and number of establishments.

The bill language also clarifies that the municipality may impose a local license requirement or endorsement requirement.

If and when this legislation becomes law,  we would recommend a review of your zoning ordinance to make sure they comport with the opt-out/in provisions.

Section 82, Cannabis Consumption Area,  Pages 170-175

Link: https://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/S3000/2703_U1.PDF

A municipality may authorize, by ordinance, the operation of locally endorsed cannabis consumption areas by a cannabis retailer or an alternative treatment center for onsite consumption of personal/medical use cannabis.

Such an area may be indoor or outdoor, provided it meets the statutory criteria as defined through Section 82.

A local cannabis consumption area may not be allowed within 1,000 feet of a boundary with an adjoining jurisdiction that does not permit retail cannabis.

The State Commission may only issue an endorsement after receipt of written approval of the local government.


Michael F. Cerra, Assistant Executive Director

mcerra@njlm.org; 609-695-3481 x120