Applications to get into the promising new industry have been piling up since the state legalized marijuana for adults in 2021 and started taking applications later that year. Stores for recreational use have been slow to open, and the number of cannabis sellers in this region can be counted on two hands. Statewide, only 37 recreational cannabis dispensaries are operating, with another 13 selling medical marijuana only.
Marijuana dispensaries across New Jersey can now create a lounge space for customers to use the products after purchasing them.
For those who don’t want to smoke at home, this could be a big change since it is illegal to smoke cannabis in public. But the rules and regulations could have some dispensary owners saying it’s not worth it.
“The law does not allow you to have these consumption lounges to sell alcohol,” says attorney Jennifer Cabrera.
Colia Best has the ambition and drive to get his cannabis business off the ground.
What’s missing is where to put it.
Best wants to have a property in hand to increase his chances of securing a retail microbusiness license with the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission. He’s been searching within a 30-mile radius of where he currently lives in Sicklerville, as far south as Atlantic City, and as far north as Burlington City since February.
Still no takers. He’s left messages with local officials. Many don’t call him back.
That’s because, according to the state’s cannabis legislation, towns opting into the adult-use market are allowed to impose their own criteria, called “home rule.” This means that even if a state license is approved by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, the local municipality can still deny it.
To aid applicants in the real estate and zoning component of their businesses and cannabis license applications, this article broadly details the relevant zoning provisions of the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act (CREAMMA or the Act) and New Jersey’s Municipal Land Use Law (MLUL), the primary zoning legislation in New Jersey, together with issues that both applicant and lawyer alike should consider when applying to a land use board to obtain approval.
CREAMMA, the MLUL, and Municipal Ordinances
Unfortunately, the patchwork of municipal policies enacted so far has created a limited and limiting licensing scheme locally that does not exist on the state level.
What do you expect when you put in charge ideological apparatchiks who have never operated a business, never created a job, or risk having to pay personal bills from business income? You certainly do not get any kind of urgency, customer service or common business sense.
“Emboldened by the failure of New Jersey lawmakers to pass a bill to legalize marijuana, opponents are hitting the measure’s main sponsor where it hurts: his own community.”
That sentence, written by James Nash of the North Jersey Record in an August 24, 2018 story, points to the thus-far successful effort by opponents of legalization to lobby the Linden City Council to ban marijuana business in Linden.
Linden is home to state Senator Nicholas Scutari, a leading advocate for legalizing recreational use of marijuana.
Q. What do I need to do first when beginning the process of applying for a license?
A. Nail down the property.
Q. What’s the biggest mistake industry entrants make?
A. Not knowing where they’re going to locate.
Q. What’s one of the biggest obstacles in opening a dispensary or grow/manufacturing facility?
A. Getting the zoning and use permissions from municipalities.