A recent poll by Quinnipiac University found that while approximately 62% of New Jersey residents are in favor of fully legalizing marijuana, only roughly 50% want it to be sold within their towns. 45% affirmatively said they do not want it in their towns. So far, at least 30 towns in New Jersey have passed laws to ban cannabis businesses.
What does this mean for the cannabis industry? Obviously, those wanting to pursue medical or adult-use cannabis licenses in the future need to pay close attention to what is occurring at the local government level. Building relationships with community organizations and the local chamber of commerce is one way of putting political pressure on local town governments not to pass these restrictive ordinances. Additionally, partnering with community organizations can demonstrate to local government that cannabis businesses can actually make positive contributions to the community. If local governments see cannabis businesses as good corporate citizens, they will be less likely to pass laws to keep them out.
Some cities, such as Newark, are working toward zoning ordinances that create “Green Zones” where cannabis businesses may be located. This could be one alternative to propose to towns who are considering a complete ban.
Pashman Stein Walder Hayden is carefully monitoring developments in New Jersey and federally with respect to marijuana legislation and will be available to help its clients navigate the sure-to-be complex regulatory framework of this potential business frontier.