Montclair Town Council Says Yes To Recreational Cannabis Businesses

Montclair’s town council discussed and passed local ordinances to allow for cannabis-related businesses at its Tuesday evening conference meeting.

Councilor at Large Peter Yacobellis cited the overwhelming support for legalization of cannabis in New Jersey and specifically in Montclair.

“We have to remember this is no longer an illegal substance and it’s no longer a controlled substance,” said Yacobellis, during discussion of the ordinances. “We should be celebrating that we are no longer going to be incarcerating people for possession on six ounces or less of marijuana.”

Yacobellis was also concerned about the possible stigmatizing.

“We’re talking about adults pursuing a legal transaction at a legal place of business, in a very heavily regulated and controlled environment,” he added, explaining how rigorous the state licensing process is.

Fourth Ward Councilor David Cummings had a problem with the whole process and how the ordinance was moved.

“There wasn’t really a lot of conversations amongst the entire council,” said Cummings. “I’m a father of three kids. I do no want any marijuana stores near a school, or a church for that matter. No one can tell me marijuana cannot be perceived as a gateway drug.”

Cummings said the township already has problems with underage drinking. He also questioned the locations being proposed and how they seemed to be only in lower income areas of the Township.

Third Ward Councilor Lori Price Abrams said the Township was starting small and only talking about two retail licenses to start.

The proposed locations are along Bloomfield Avenue, the majority in the Third Ward; also Valley Road in the Second Ward and a portion of the Fourth Ward, also along Bloomfield Avenue.

Montclair was groundbreaking as home to one of the state’s first medical marijuana dispensaries — Greenleaf, which has now become Ascend.

Three emergency resolutions were passed Tuesday ahead of a state-imposed deadline (New Jersey towns had until August 21 to pass a law on recreational cannabis). The final votes on all three were passed 5-2, with the two no votes coming from Councilor Cummings and First Ward Councilor Bill Hurlock.

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  1. It seems the Council and the Planning Board allowed the focus of their reviews to be 1) overly influenced by their positions on legalizing cannabis and 2) bricks & mortar retail.

    Yes, there were deadline pressures and yes, the State has yet to finalize a lot of the details. However, the mistakes we made in crafting the ordinances were foreseeable, basic and therefore ours to take the blame for. Including me. I just recognized one today. It involves delivery services.

    Our ordinances create one delivery service license. The delivery service licensee can deliver for any cannabis retailer (e.g. one in Bloomfield). We did not include a tax on delivery services. I’m not sure we can legally tax a delivery service. More importantly, we didn’t zone for the one delivery service license as a permitted use. So, we will need to create a new ordinance to sell this license.

    I was disappointed the conversation focused so much on the bricks & mortar retailers – and just 2 licenses at that – in this era of Amazon, Uber & Instacart consumerism. I think this highly regulated, high cost category will quickly be defined by competitive scale and not the number of convenient, but costly doors. On the flip side, if bricks & mortar are selling convenience, did we have options on the level of taxation? Maybe not, but did we have the discussion?

  2. It turns out we could have taxed cannabis delivery service if the consumer placed their order directly to the service. Now we can’t.

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