It is always the towns with the most improbable names on NJ who want to ban weed !

Later this month, the public will have an opportunity to tell the Ship Bottom Borough Council how they feel about a proposed measure to prohibit all classes of business establishments, and distribution or delivery services related to the sale of cannabis.

The May 25 Ship Bottom council meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be conducted via the Zoom platform due to pandemic restrictions.

Citing the detrimental impact of a cannabis business to New Jersey communities in general, and in particular to Ship Bottom, the borough council introduced Ordinance 2021-06 by title at its April 27 meeting. The proposed measure also establishes municipal code titled “Cannabis, Establishments, Distribution and Delivery Services Prohibited.” It also amends the land development code to ban all classes of a cannabis-related business.

Ordinance 2021-06 reads “It is, at this time, necessary and appropriate, and in the best interest of the health, safety and welfare of the Borough of Ship Bottom’s residents and members of the public who visit, travel, or conduct business,” to amend the town’s regulations to ban all manner of cannabis/marijuana business within the confines of the borough.

In February, Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law P.L. 2021, c 16, known as the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance and Marketplace Modernization Act. The act legalizes the recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older while creating a regulatory and licensing plan for commercial recreational cannabis operations, use and possession. There are six classes of cannabis establishments set out in the state measure: cultivator, manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, retailer and delivery service.

Under the state measure, a municipality can authorize, by ordinance, regulations governing cannabis establishments, distributors and delivery services, except those outsides of its borders. According to the proposed ordinance, the state measure also allows municipalities “to prohibit by ordinance the operation of any one or more classes of cannabis establishments, distributors, or delivery services anywhere in the municipality, except for the delivery of cannabis items and related supplies by a delivery service based and initiated from outside of the municipality.”

All municipal regulations or bans must be adopted within 180 days of the effective date of cannabis becoming legal in the state of New Jersey. Any municipality failing to take action would immediately experience a five-year period of the availability of “growing, cultivating, manufacturing, selling and reselling of cannabis and cannabis items” in all industrial zones. Retail selling of cannabis items, for the same five-year period, would be a conditional use in all commercial and retail zones. In 2026, the end of the initial five-year period, a subsequent 180-day cycle would begin for town officials who want to take action in favor or against cannabis businesses in their community but who failed to act now.

The New Jersey League of Municipalities said local officials can enact by ordinance a local cannabis tax that cannot exceed 2 percent for a cannabis cultivator, manufacturer and/or retailer, and 1 percent for wholesalers. The tax percentage is based on the receipts for each sale and is paid directly to the municipality in the manner prescribed by the municipality. Any delinquencies are treated the same as delinquent property taxes.

On Long Beach Island, Barnegat Light, Long Beach Township and Surf City have already introduced an ordinance banning all six classes of a cannabis business. Beach Haven officials are expected to consider enacting an ordinance permitting and regulating a cannabis business in that borough.

Earlier this year, state Sen. Christopher J. Connors and Assembly members DiAnne C. Gove and Brian E. Rumpf, who represent all of LBI in Trenton, opposed legalizing recreational pot, saying in a statement, “Without question, the dangers legalizing marijuana would pose to New Jersey residents are too severe to dismiss for the sake of revenue generated to fill Trenton’s coffers. First and foremost, we are concerned about the dangers of drugged driving and the expanded potential for deaths and serious injuries caused by impaired drivers.”  —G.G.S.