As the Aug. 21 deadline to decide on legal marijuana gets closer, towns in Somerset County are banning or allowing — mostly banning — cannabis businesses, with some enacting penalties as high as $200 for smoking weed in public.
The laws passed by the state legislature this year gave municipalities in New Jersey six months to pass ordinances banning the nascent industry. Some, like Franklin Township, are passing laws allocating the six types of cannabis business licenses offered by the state — cultivator, manufacturer, wholesaler, distributor, retailer and delivery — to their appropriate zones. Meanwhile, other towns, like Somerville, are only allowing a limited number of some licenses, confined to specific areas.
Some towns in the county are taking the bans on cannabis further than outlawing businesses from operating, enacting ordinances that will slap tokers with a $200 fine for smoking or vaping marijuana in public places. These ordinances all define public places as “any place to which the public has access that is not privately owned; or any place to which the public has access including, but not limited to, a public street, roadway, thoroughfare, sidewalk, bridge, alley, plaza, park, playground, swimming pool, shopping area, public transportation facility, vehicle used for public transportation, parking lot, public library, or any other public building structure, or area.”
The bans on smoking in public don’t apply to private property, so residents will still be able to consume cannabis in whatever form they like at home. The bans on cannabis businesses also don’t extend to delivery services operating in other towns, so you’ll still be able to get weed delivered to your door.
The towns that are allowing cannabis are taking advantage of the 2% tax on sales allowed by the state. This tax will be added to the state sales tax of about 7%, so consumers are looking at a total tax of about 9% on cannabis sales.