In Middle Township, one of only four municipalities in Cape May County to authorize cannabis businesses, a deal for a cannabis growing operation on Indian Trail Road has fallen through. Middle supported the Massachusetts-based INSA company in its attempt to rehabilitate the former La Monica plant as a growing site back in October 2021.
In the fall, the township supported a proposal to open a cannabis retail store in the Rio Grande section, at a long-vacant site where a diner once stood on Route 9. The township has backed the Massachusetts-based cannabis company Insa, which has plans for a retail location but so far has not been granted a state license.
In November, the township said no to allowing a second retail site, from C3 Middle Township LLC. At that time, Mayor Tim Donohue said he expected to see litigation filed in connection to that decision.
Cannabis was in the crosshairs at the Monday Middle Township Committee meeting, at which a resident lambasted plans for a dispensary in the Rio Grande section.
At a previous meeting, committee members supported the location on Route 9. The site is currently vacant, after the diner that once stood there burned down years ago.
The Massachusetts company, INSA, has already sought a license for medical retail in the township. That effort failed to get state approval during the first rounds of licensing for medical cannabis dispensaries. There is still the potential for an integrated license for cultivation and manufacturing operations at the old La Monica Plant on Indian Trail Road.
A Friday vote by the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission pulled the rug out from under plans for a medical cannabis site in Middle Township.
As a result, Massachusetts-based Insa plans to pivot to the adult-use market.
Insa planned to build a new facility on Indian Trail Road to grow and sell cannabis for the medical market under what’s known as a vertically integrated license.
In a virtual meeting, the state board approved four new vertically integrated licenses, including one in South Jersey, as well as new cultivation licenses.
The resolution will bolster the efforts of Insa of Easthampton, Massachusetts, to get a state license to grow marijuana for the medical market at a former seafood processing plant, said Committeeman Theron “Ike” Gandy.
As approved, the resolution cites the potential economic benefit of redeveloping an otherwise blighted property.
One neighbor emphatically opposed the plan at the start of the meeting Monday, but the committee has backed the idea for years as Insa has sought one of 24 medical cannabis licenses available in the state.
Middle Township will introduce an ordinance on July 7 to ban, at least temporarily, all classes of recreational cannabis licenses.
According to a release, the township has supported the pending application of the Insa medical cannabis facility in the municipality and sought public input on permitting dispensaries, but the complexities of state legislation leave too many questions for the township to proceed at this time.
When legal weed dispensaries wanted to set up shop in Easthampton, Massachusetts, local officials worried about increased crime, kids smoking weed and property values falling.
But none of the stereotypical nightmares came true.
“We have not seen one of those things,” said Mayor Nicole LaChapelle. “Our view of this was very much influenced by our fears and something so new. It certainly influenced the ordinance. It also reflected public opinion.”
Despite overwhelmingly being approved by voters in November, recreational marijuana has been slow to garner support at the local level.
Since the bill was signed into law Feb. 22 and guidance was issued on legalized marijuana, towns around the area have been quick to adopt their own legislation all but banning the recreational smoking of marijuana despite voters supporting it by a 67% to 32% margin. All but three of the state’s 565 municipalities voted in favor of it at the polls.
Donohue reiterated the municipality’s support for INSA, a vertically integrated Massachusetts company engaged in the cultivation, manufacture, sale and distribution of cannabis.
The company has plans for a medical marijuana dispensary on the site of the former La Monica plant. The legalization of recreational cannabis in New Jersey led company executives to expand their plans for the site to include the cultivation and distribution of cannabis to other retail outlets outside the municipality.