Proposed ban on marijuana-based businesses set for May 4 hearing

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Point Pleasant Beach Borough Hall FILE PHOTO

POINT PLEASANT BEACH — The Point Pleasant Beach Borough Council has scheduled a May 4 hearing on a proposed ordinance to ban marijuana-based businesses and operations. 

The proposal follows guidance from the New Jersey League of Municipalities urging boroughs to move the legislation before an Aug. 22 state deadline to do so.

In February, Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, legalizing recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older. 

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The law sets regulations for the commercial recreational cannabis marketplace and establishes six classes of businesses: cannabis cultivator, cannabis manufacturer, cannabis wholesaler, cannabis distributor, cannabis retailer and cannabis delivery. 

State officials gave municipalities a deadline of  Aug. 22 to enact any ban on marijuana-based businesses in their towns. If a borough failed to enact a ban by that date, the growth, cultivation, sale and resale of cannabis and cannabis products would be allowed for at least five years.

The ordinance introduced in Point Pleasant Beach on April 20 would still allow for the delivery and use of marijuana in the borough, only prohibiting businesses themselves. 

Borough attorney Kevin Riordan explained the borough’s position on the ordinance and said virtually every New Jersey municipality is recommending the ordinance. 

“The statute passed by the legislature gives municipalities a very short window to ban it,” said Mr. Riordan. “You can always change your mind, but you have only a short window to ban it.”

He said that is why the borough is moving quickly to enact the ordinance.

“It’s really not suggesting that it may never come to Point Pleasant Beach, it’s saying that because the statute by the state requires a municipality to exercise its authority in a very short window,” he said. 

Mayor Paul Kanitra called the ordinance a “no-brainer.”

“It goes back to the concept that from the very beginning when this marijuana law passed, we said we needed to see how it was affecting municipalities, what the ramifications were for the tourism industry, everything like that,” said Mr. Kanitra. “We need time to study this and the fact that the state gives us such a truncated timeline where we have no ability and we lose that ability.”

The mayor also referred to comments made by members of the public saying marijuana businesses and liquor stores and bars are essentially the same.

“Anybody who makes a comparison between cannabis and liquor you are more than welcome to,” he said. “We don’t want any new liquor stores in Point Pleasant Beach either.”

Mr. Kanitra assured the ordinance would not ban the recreational use of cannabis in the borough. 

“Residents have at it, use it, do whatever you want with it, enjoy, [but] get it delivered,” said Mr. Kanitra.

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