After 3 Years A MMJ Dispensary Opens In Ocean County

Medical cannabis dispensary sign Ocean County
Photo: Shutterstock

WARETOWN, Ocean County – Nearly three years ago the Township of Ocean defined the approved zone for retail sales of medical cannabis. It’s taken since then for Ocean County’s first-ever medical marijuana dispensary to open for business.

Located at 501 U.S. 9 in Waretown, BLOC’s license only allows them to sell cannabis to those who are registered patients of the New Jersey Medicinal Cannabis Program.

When township officials first approved the local law, they were the anomaly in Southern Ocean County. Neighboring towns on both sides specifically decided against any type of cannabis sales – despite the fact that a majority of voters were in favor of recreational marijuana.

Amidst financial struggles within the township’s schools, Board of Education members suggested the town might consider sharing revenue generated by potential cannabis businesses. Township officials reserved comment on the proposal – which is now a moot discussion.

Initially, under New Jersey state law, the municipality had the potential to collect a two percent share from all cannabis retail sales. However, as of July 1, 2022, the law underwent changes as far as medical marijuana. Consequently, the Township of Ocean will only receive revenue from the dispensary in the form of property taxes, the same as every other business.

Locals may recall the steel structure that stood in the Waretown Town Center for an extended period. The project was initially intended for another entity that decided to change locations. In August 2021, government authorities shared the news that they’d granted approval for the construction of a medical cannabis dispensary in the front of the plaza where ShopRite is the primary tenant.

People speculated about the delays in the mysterious construction that seemed to constantly stop and start again. Like most projects, COVID and building supply issues were a factor. A year ago, BLOC hoped to open its doors in October of 2022.

Once construction delays concluded, the next issue was the usual red tape associated with any business requiring state approval. The new dispensary invited residents to see its facility before product was on location – to bring a sense of ease to the community.

“The Township of Ocean is happy to announce the opening of BLOC-Medical Cannabis Dispensary,” said Diane Ambrosio, Township Administrator. “As the first medical cannabis dispensary in Ocean County, they have been able to assist many people in need of medical cannabis with drive-thru access. Patients will no longer need to drive an hour away to get their prescriptions filled.”

Within days of BLOC’s opening, Ocean County’s first recreational cannabis shop held its grand opening in South Toms River. The same tax restrictions don’t apply when it comes to recreational sales, cultivators or manufacturers – South Toms River is receiving an annual fee plus 2% of its net profits, Mayor Oscar Cradle said.

Meanwhile, the Township of Ocean has made some changes since its first cannabis ordinance. While there are no new laws in place concerning recreational sales, the town is accepting applications for other types of cannabis licensed businesses. There is a $10,000 registration fee for the first year and then a $10,000 annual fee is required for cannabis cultivators, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors and medical dispensaries.