As many as half of the municipalities in New Jersey are set to opt-out of the state’s new adult-use cannabis market, the Gothamist reports. Jurisdictions have until August 21 to opt out of the system but can re-join the effort at any time. However, if a town does not ban cannabis businesses by the deadline, they cannot opt-out for another five years, the report says.
Areas are dropping out for a variety of reasons, like proximity to residential areas, youth access concerns and as one New Jersey mayor put it New Jersians “didn’t vote for 17-year-olds to become drug users, they didn’t vote for some overtaxed product so some MS-13 gangbanger can come in here and undercut” legal cannabis, according to the report. Others say it is too soon to approve cannabis in their town because the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission has not yet issued their new rules, which are set to be revealed by August 21, the Gothamist report notes.
Responding to accusations the opt-out is a “delay tactic,” Livingston Mayor Shawn Klein said, that “the people who want marijuana in Livingston are very vocal and really want it.”
“I thought it was important to be very clear about what are the open questions, because they’re worried we’re going to use this as a delay tactic.”— Klein to the Gothamist
Klein added that the town could approve cannabis businesses in the future when the state releases more details like safety protocols and parking requirements.
Despite the opt-outs, New Jersey’s largest cities like Newark, Atlantic City, Hoboken, Trenton, and Jersey City are embracing adult-use cannabis. Many of the towns that are moving forward with the new adult-use cannabis program are writing their own rules. Cities like Newark have passed their own set of rules on security, allowed locations, and odor management. Flemington, banned some of the six license types, while allowing others, according to the Gothamist.
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