NJ: Howell Council To Ban Weed Businesses

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HOWELL – The township has taken preliminary steps to banning marijuana businesses.

The Township Council introduced an ordinance Tuesday that would prohibit “the operation of any class of cannabis business” in town. The proposed ordinance is scheduled for a public hearing June 15.

New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved legalizing marijuana in November, but law enforcement officials have criticized restrictions they say hamstring them from enforcing underage use, among other things.

Municipalities have until August to pass ordinances prohibiting marijuana businesses. Otherwise the new businesses can be grandfathered into existing retail and industrial zones.

Voters statewide approved legal marijuana in November, 67.1% to 32.9%. That split was only slightly narrower in Monmouth County at 65.6% to 34.4%.

In Howell, 63.39% of voters said “yes” to legalizing marijuana in November.

Notwithstanding widespread support from voters, many towns and cities have taken steps to prohibit marijuana businesses within their borders.

“This prohibition shall not apply to the delivery of cannabis items and related supplies being delivered into Howell Township by a cannabis delivery service located outside the geographic boundaries of Howell Township, which delivery service shall have been duly licensed by the municipality in which it operates,” according to the proposed ordinance.

Council members and other officials said they might revisit whether to allow marijuana businesses in the future.

“If these places … go in areas of town that we do not want it, we’re stuck with it,” Councilman John Bonevich said Tuesday. “This is just giving us time to zone and say, ‘This is where it should go and this is where it shouldn’t go.'”

“Don’t think that were taking any of this lightly, we’re not,” Councilwoman Pamela Richmond concurred. “I think that putting this forth is what’s best for the township.”