By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View
The council also heard comments criticizing their six-month moratorium on cannabis dispensaries for allegedly hurting the type of locally owned, minority companies they claimed they wanted to support.
The Other Side dispensary owner Alyza Brevard-Rodriguez noted she wanted to support independent cannabis companies.
“I’m tired of taking it on the chin,” she said claiming barriers were intentionally placed on minority cannabis entrepreneurs, as well as that they spent $250,000 to address many arbitrary issues.
“If you impose this moratorium all my hard work will go down the drain,” declared, Alexandria Alcala, of Neon Heights..
She noted continued that many companies that have already received resolutions are not from Jersey City and only have minorities in token positions to check necessary boxes.
“This moratorium will kill us. I don’t have any buffer issues: It’s unfair for everyone who did everything they could to comply with the ordinance,” Alcala explained.
Additionally, Norva Alleyne explained Chelsea Duffy, a co-owner of Local Modiv, has been helping with the charity Save a Few at the Mary McCleod Bethune Center.
“It will provide new tax revenue for the city,” she asserted.
City Clerk Sean Gallagher noted that Local Modiv resolution had to receive a vote this evening. They had a contentious path to being approved by the local cannabis control.
After being denied by the CCB, they sued and won, with Hudson County Superior Court Judge Joseph Turula ruling that the CCB had to approve them on a second hearing.
Local Modiv received conditional state approval from the NJ Cannabis Regulatory Commission last October.
“We’re still in the midst of that litigation?” Ward A Councilwoman Denise Ridley asked.
“There is a pending appeal related to the process. This matter is properly placed before the council by a court order that shouldn’t affect your vote,” Corporation Counsel Peter Baker said.
“Who’s appealing?” Ward D Councilman Yousef Saleh asked.
“The city and the cannabis control board,” Baker replied.
“Does it then come back before us?” Ridley asked.
“If an application is approved … it would have to return prior to final approval,” Baker explained.
“We’re not understanding this. We don’t want to do something and find out it was illegal,” Council President Joyce Watterman said.
“There is a pending appeal. The trial court judge … has ordered it placed on the agenda tonight. We have a court order we need to address,” Baker said.
“The applicant has requested this application go forward. We are bound by the trial court’s directive.”
Ward F Councilman Frank “Educational” Gilmore asked what would happen if they won the court case after approving the applicant, to which Baker said it would change how the resolution is interpreted.
He said they want to introduce another cannabis ordinance to address issues raised.
“We are bound by the trial courts,” Baker repeated, indicating the outcome would impact other applicants.
Ridley said she was still didn’t feel comfortable about Local Modiv and abstained, as did Ward B Councilwoman Mira Prinz-Arey. Ward C Councilman Rich Boggiano voted no, as he has on all dispensaries, and Ward D Councilman Saleh abstained as well.
Ward E Councilman James Solomon said he was excited to have longtime Jersey City residents move forward with Cannabotique by Greenhouse and also voted yes for Local Modiv.
“It’s important we treat every application by the same standards,” he said, noting that he’d like the moratorium to be shorter than six months, though he also felt there were enough cannabis dispensaries approved for Newark Avenue at the time being.
“I’ll vote yea because it went through the CCB board. We should get a tutorial on something like this. I’ve never voted on anything that had pending litigation,” Gilmore said.
Councilman-at-Large Daniel Rivera and Councilwoman-at-Large Amy DeGise both voted yes before Watterman noted she had to abstain due to a conflict: both her and Duffy are part of the Jersey Cit Women’s Advisory Board.
“I cannot vote because of the position I hold with the women’s advisory board. The council is not clear. We should have made it quite clear to us what’s going on,” Watterman said.
“I’m concerned about the majority rule here,” she added, asking Gallagher if the measure would fail.
Gallagher explained that even with several abstentions, majority still rules, which in this case was still five votes since all nine council members were present (therefore it would have failed), but Watterman asked for a revote before she cast her abstention.
Saleh first indicated that he’d like to change his abstention to a yes vote, citing that he didn’t want to see a small business suffer irreparable harm.
Ridley also changed her vote to aye and asked for more clarity in the future.
Cannabotique by Greenhouse was approved 8-1, with Boggiano voting no, while Local Modiv was approved 6-1(2), with Boggiano voting no and Prinz-Arey and Watterman abstaining.