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John De Los Santos has a plan to open a new recreational cannabis dispensary in Paterson, his hometown; he was given conditional approval last year by state regulators for it. The only thing stopping him is city politics.
Paterson has a limit of three recreational cannabis dispensaries in the city and that quota has been filled. That leaves De Los Santos on the outside looking in, as he struggles to keep investors and a lease in place.
The Paterson City Council approved an ordinance to regulate the sales of cannabis and the operation of dispensaries within the city, on Tuesday. The effort, according to the measure, is to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the community.
The council previously rejected the sale or cultivation of adult-use cannabis, a move that drew a swift veto by Mayor Andre Sayegh. In a guest column published by TAPinto Paterson, Board of Education President Kenneth Simmons also registered his opinion that dispensaries should not be allowed in the city.
The Paterson City Council took steps last week to regulate the sales of cannabis and the operation of dispensaries within the city. The effort, according to the measure, is to protect the health, safety, and general welfare of the community.
The council previously rejected the sale or cultivation of adult-use cannabis, a move that drew a swift veto by Mayor Andre Sayegh. In a guest colum published by TAPinto Paterson, Board of Education President Kenneth Simmons also registered his opinion that dispensaries should not be allowed in the city.
The long-awaited launch of New Jersey’s legal marijuana program is finally in view. Regulators recently agreed on rules and regulations for the industry as they prepare to open the application process for the licensing of new businesses. But only about 30% of towns in the state have opted in for recreational pot.
On Friday, Sayegh informed the City Clerk’s office that he was vetoing an ordinance passed 6-1 by the Paterson City Council just days earlier that would have opted Paterson out of the State’s cannabis program.
“Pateronsians have overwhelmingly voted in favor of legal cannabis and I have a duty to respect their wishes,” Sayegh said in his memo announcing the veto. “Indeed, not one member of the Council has suggested that legal cannabis be prohibited in Paterson.”
Mayor Andre Sayegh has vetoed the City Council’s ban on recreational marijuana businesses, saying he does not want Paterson to fall behind other municipalities in the race to cash in on legalized cannabis.
“We run the significant risk of being last to the market with an inability to meaningfully take advantage of the legal, social, and economic opportunities legal cannabis provides,” Sayegh said in his veto message, issued late Friday afternoon.
In an effort to buy extra time, the City Council is moving to ban all recreational marijuana businesses from Paterson, despite Mayor Andre Sayegh’s support for an initiative he says could produce $1.5 million in annual fees.
In an 8-0 vote late Wednesday night, the council gave preliminary approval to opting out of the state’s recreational cannabis program. Sayegh’s plan would have allowed as many as 36 businesses to cultivate, manufacture, sell and deliver the marijuana.
The mayor’s plan for legalized marijuana businesses has run into criticism from City Council members calling for numerous changes, such as increasing the minimum distance between cannabis stores and homes, schools and houses of worship.
A crowd of officials were on hand Friday, to witness Mayor Andre Sayegh cut the ribbon at Rise Paterson.
“This, I can say — on those three different levels — will be beneficial for us: the jobs, the revenue and the convenience for the constituents that really need it,” Sayegh said.
Tight regulations under former Gov. Chris Christie limited New Jersey to just six medical marijuana dispensaries statewide, including facilities in Montclair and Secaucus.
Paterson’s long awaited marijuana medical dispensary is set to welcome its first patients Saturday.
Originally announced in December, 2018, the facility is owned by Green Thumb Industries (GTI), a national cannabis consumer packaged goods company and retailer. The Paterson location, called Rise Paterson, is GTI’s first medical marijuana dispensary in New Jersey.