The Jersey City Council will vote on whether or not to ban recreational marijuana before officials decide what neighborhoods would be best suited for growing and selling the drug.
By John Heinis/Hudson County View
“I am supporter of legalization but it is important that Jersey City takes a proactive approach to prepare for the possible legalization of marijuana in New Jersey,” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a statement.
“The outlined changes to our zoning laws will help ensure that residents will be part of the process of where dispensaries and grow facilities will be permitted, and will guarantee that Jersey City will have the ability to chart its own course once legalization occurs. Our goal is to be ahead of the conversation so that we don’t find ourselves in costly legal battles defending the City in the case we hadn’t prepared properly.”
Specifically, the council will vote on amendments to the city’s Land Development Ordinance which will serve as the first steps in ensuring that any future legalization within the City is done in a “strategic and equitable way,” the mayor’s office said.
In addition to the amendments, the governing body will also review a memo prepared by the Division of City Planning which outlines both short-term and long-term strategies to prepare for possible statewide legalization.
Currently, Jersey City City’s Land Development Ordinance does not expressly prohibit the cultivation, manufacture, warehousing, distribution and sale of Cannabis as a matter of land use and it would be permitted citywide per our current zoning ordinances.
The amendments that will go before the city council on Wednesday will proactively restrict these uses so that upon legalization, the location of warehouse and distribution centers would not be allowed in places that are not aligned with the community’s wishes.
Once prohibited in all areas, the Division of City Planning recommends the creation of an overlay zone that lifts this restriction in designated zones.
Additionally, public input will be a critical part of the process to decide these overlay zones, and public meetings will be held to help define these areas throughout the city.
The division also recommends that the city create a license requirement for all establishments seeking to conduct Commercial Cannabis Activity – and parse out those licenses to include cultivation, manufacture, warehousing, distribution, research/development and sale of Cannabis and Cannabis Products.
Regulations within the license requirement would provide guidance as to their location in order to restrict their establishment from specific distance of schools, public parks, day care centers, and other licensed cannabis establishments.
At a community meeting in Ward F last month, Fulop expressed his support for marijuana legalization, provided that local zoning laws are changed accordingly.
He elaborated on the subject during his March 9th appearance on Hudson County Review Live.
As only HCV has reported, Weehawken has already amended their zoning laws in anticipation of marijuana legalization.
Back in January, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) called for a 60-day review of the state’s medical marijuana program, though bills that have been introduced in the state Legislature remain stalled at the moment.