Hoboken council urges Hudson’s state lawmakers to push for more cannabis revenue

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The Hoboken City Council unanimously (9-0) approved a resolution urging Hudson County’s state lawmakers to push for more local tax revenue from the legal sale of cannabis.

Photo via Headynj.com.

By John Heinis/Hudson County View

“This is not asking the state legislature to increase the sales tax and give more to Hoboken: this is saying to the legislature that right now, all municipalities have the ability to put a two percent tax on cannabis sales, but that’s it right,” began 2nd Ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, one of the sponsors of the resolution.

“So whether it’s Sussex County, that doesn’t have the same proximity to New York, or us, we both get to charge two percent. All this is saying is ‘oh, we don’t get to charge three percent or five percent or 12 percent.”

Fisher explained that with the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey eminent as of last night, cities like Hoboken and Jersey City need to consider people from New York who will take a short trip across the river so that they can legally take edibles and go to a bar – placing a greater strain on public safety resources.

Specifically, the resolution is asking the Hudson County delegation to seek “special, statutory excise tax or revenue program that will allow Hoboken and other Hudson County municipalities to generate sufficient revenues from the sale of personal use cannabis.”

“Take cannabis out of this: we already have egregious quality of life issues in Downtown Hoboken without medicinal cannabis and without adult use cannabis,” added 1st Ward Councilman Mike DeFusco, the other sponsor of the local legislation.

“For the last five years, I begged the police chief for more foot patrols, my neighbors have been putting up with noise complaints: it is literally the wild west in my neighborhood. The notion that this is somehow not an issue and all of a sudden going to be an issue with cannabis is a bridge too far.”

3rd Ward Councilman Mike Russo said it was “absolutely warranted” for DeFusco to push for more police patrols in his ward, but said he didn’t see how that was related to the resolution at hand.

He was also skeptical about how many New York residents would care about legal marijuana in New Jersey.

“Councilwoman, I know you understand supply and demand: a quarter ounce over in the city from an illegal vendor versus a quarter ounce over in Hoboken from a legal vendor is much cheaper,” Russo began.

“No one’s getting on a train, believe me, they’re going to buy what they normally buy, they’re gonna smoke where they normally smoke, because in the city no one really gets locked up for smoking a joint.”

After slightly amending some of the language in the resolution, for example changing “potential risks” to “potential costs,” the measure passed unanimously.

“We appreciate that the proposed state legislation attempts to provide some local relief so taxpayers won’t have to shoulder the costs relating to the sale and consumption of marijuana, however, it doesn’t go far enough for some areas,” DeFusco and Fisher said in a joint statement this morning.

“We invite our neighboring local governments to join us in calling on all Hudson County legislators to advocate for more for the cities which are uniquely affected.”

Hudson County state delegation consists of Senators Sandra Cunningham (D-31), Nick Sacco (D-32), and Brian Stack (D-33), along with Assembly members Angela McKnight, Nick Chiaravalloti (both D-31), Angelica Jimenez, Pedro Mejia (both D-32), Annette Chaparro, and Raj Mukherji (both D-33).

Hoboken is located within the 33rd Legislative District and the resolution will also be forward to Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D) office, as well as the legislators that sponsored the related bills in the state Assembly and Senate.

This afternoon, the Assembly voted 49-24 to legalize marijuana, with the Senate approving the legislation by a closer tally of 23-17.

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