Camden City Council is working quickly to ban cannabis businesses from operating within the city — a move designed to give officials more time to craft rules that will ultimately allow such businesses to open there.
“It’s more like a pause on having the industry in the city, particularly to give us control over the industry in Camden,” said Nichelle Pace, who chairs an ad hoc committee that will recommend rules for the recreational marijuana market. “It gives us a chance to have a road map and put in best recommendations for policies and procedures.”
City officials are under an Aug. 22 deadline resulting from the bill signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in February that gave the Cannabis Regulatory Commission the power to establish and regulate the recreational marijuana market in New Jersey. The measure gave municipalities six months to decide whether they would allow cannabis businesses to operate in their jurisdictions under state rules or opt out.
If a municipality does not enact an ordinance by the deadline, then any cannabis business that is permitted would be allowed to operate under state rules. At that point, it would be five years before a municipality could revisit prohibiting such businesses.
“If we don’t opt out, we are just subject to the state’s rules, and we have no control [over] who comes in here,” Pace said.