FLEMINGTON – The war to legalize marijuana in New Jersey may be over, but smaller skirmishes on local battlefields may be just beginning.
Like all the state’s 565 municipalities, Flemington will have the task of deciding how legalization could impact the town.
Mayor Betsy Driver said at Monday’s borough council meeting that officials will be discussing at their next meeting on March 8 basic issues about legalization.
First, the mayor said, the council must decide whether the borough wants to allow a marijuana dispensary within its borders.
And if the borough decides a marijuana dispensary is allowed, then officials will have to decide where it could be located.
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Driver said one of the decisions to be made, if the county seat decides it will host a dispensary, is whether it will be located on Main Street or in the retail zone on the highways.
Because Flemington is only 1 square mile in size, said Borough Attorney Richard Cushing, “that presents a lot of problems.”
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If state law prohibits marijuana dispensaries within 1,000 feet of a school or a park, that puts a strict limit on where dispensaries can be located.
For example, Driver said, the vacant Rite Aid on the corner of Route 31 and Church Street, may be within 1,000 feet of the Flemington-Raritan Baseball Complex on Elwood Avenue. The Stangl Road area may be with 1,000 feet of Reading-Fleming Intermediate School.
When Edward Salzman and Lori McHugh, partners in Smooth Roots CBD in New Hope, informally approached the borough council in December to gauge interest whether the county seat was interested in hosting a marijuana dispensary, Driver admitted it may be difficult finding a location.
“We’re a tight borough,” the mayor said.
Cushing said the state League of Municipalities will be issuing guidance on the role municipalities will play in regulating marijuana dispensaries.
In June 2019, the borough council endorsed the concept of having a medical marijuana dispensary in the county seat.
New Jersey on Monday officially became the 13th state to legalize marijuana, as Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law three bills putting into effect a ballot question overwhelmingly supported by voters last year.
The laws allow the possession and use of marijuana by anyone over 21 years old. They can have up to 6 ounces of weed on them without facing any penalty.
The laws also allow the purchase and sale of marijuana at state-licensed dispensaries.
Regulated marijuana will not be available in the state for several months until a new government body, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, issues rules governing its use, though it could be more than a year a year before recreational sales begin.
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Mike Deak is a reporter for mycentraljersey.com. To get unlimited access to his articles on Somerset and Hunterdon counties, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.