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West Orange has moved closer to having its first recreational marijuana business after the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission approved the application of Pure Natural Vibes.
Darnnelle and Nordia Gibbs, both long-time residents of the City of Orange, own the business that is transforming a former doctor’s office at 470 Prospect Ave. into a retail operation.
“We are waiting on the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission to approve our conversion application, which was submitted at the end of June,” Dishmen told Patch on Thursday. “As a result, we are anxious to open in Q4 of this year.”
In the meanwhile, The Library continues to hold outreach events and social justice programs, the latest of which is scheduled for the Labor Day weekend.
Several cannabis applicants with letters of recommendation from the township spoke at the recent town council meeting about the revised cannabis ordinance which mandates businesses to open their shops within a year of receiving a license from the state and increases the minimum distance from cannabis establishments to schools and houses of worship from 100 to 500 feet.
During Tuesday’s town council meeting, council members and residents discussed a cannabis ordinance amendment which states that cannabis operations need to be 200 feet (increased from 100 feet) from schools, daycare facilities, preschools and places of worship. It will also cap the number of micro businesses that West Orange allows.
There are currently seven businesses going through the state application process to open in West Orange. However, the ordinance, as it is currently written, has been called into question, as federal guidelines state that cannabis businesses should be more than 1,000 feet away from these areas, not the 200-foot distance for which the businesses were approved according to the West Orange ordinance.
Cheryl Merklinger requested a 1,000-foot distance between cannabis businesses and schools, places of worship and parks. Committee member Susan Scarpa supported that distance.
DJ Howard, National Community Program Director for multiple cannabis organizations, stated, “I do not support rescinding these cannabis licenses from those who have already received their letters of support and a resolution from this council.” He spoke of the educational opportunities and medicinal uses as well.
The West Orange Town Council is considering rolling out changes to its local law regulating cannabis businesses and dispensaries.
On Tuesday, the council met to discuss a proposed ordinance that would tweak several aspects of its local law, including the maximum number of allowable licenses
Currently, the town’s law permits four active cannabis business licenses, regardless of their type, with unlimited “microbusinesses” as defined by the state. Under the proposed ordinance, that total would increase to seven – including microbusinesses.
At last week’s town council meeting, members voted on Kemistry LLC Cannabis’ proposal to open its business at 455 Pleasant Valley.
Council Member Michelle Casalino expressed her concern that customers have to park in the public parking lot. She also inquired as to what the cap will be on the number of West Orange cannabis businesses. Casalino stated, “We have four letters of approval--two for retail and two for cultivation. That’s six letters of support, and this would make seven.”
Several people trying to open cannabis businesses in West Orange asked the town council when they will be approved and able to begin operations.
Victoria Nelson, co-owner of Lovely Leaf, shared, “I just wanted to let the council know that I am applying, so please keep the doors open so that I can complete my application.” She added, “I am a qualified micro business, and I'm looking to stay as a micro business for the foreseeable future if awarded a resolution for the town.”
As of last week, more than a dozen companies have expressed interest in opening a cannabis business in West Orange since 2020 – including several retail dispensaries. But which ones ultimately nail down the last of the town's coveted four licenses remains to be seen.