Vernon greenlights four types of cannabis enterprises, may revisit allowing shops

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The Vernon Township Council on July 26 unanimously agreed to allow four types of cannabis commercial enterprises in the township.

The ordinance will allow cultivators, manufacturers, wholesalers, and distributors, but does not permit the operation of a cannabis retail store in the township. The measure passed 4-0. Councilwoman Kelly Weller was absent.

Mayor Howard Burrell said the Vernon Township Land Use Board provided the council with a written decision that the council’s proposal to regulate legal cannabis was consistent with the township’s master plan.

He also said the board amended the ordinance to allow retail establishments.

Burrell said conversations he’s had with members of the board indicate they also believe that allowing adult-use retail cannabis stores in the township will be an “overall good and practical economic use that could bring significant benefits for our town residents.”

Council Vice President John Auberger said he would like the township to revisit the ordinance and reconsider retail cannabis.

Councilman Andrew Pitsker said he toured a dispensary in Maplewood. He said the facility is secure and customers must enter through a reception area and then enter through a locked door to the showroom, where the products are in a secure locked case. The dispensary employs “consultants” to assess the customer’s needs.

Pitsker said he counted 43 cameras at the dispensary but was told there are many more than that. He also looked at the delivery of the product and how it was stored in vaults for security.

“It taught me that the business model that they have is very good,” he said. “Control is higher than what I see for alcohol and the plans that the state is putting in for the controls for the safety and security for al. I was impressed by that too. Based on the tour of the medical retail dispensary and discussions on how this firm could handle adult use retail cannabis in the figure, I think Maplewood would be a very good model for Vernon to follow when developing our laws and zoning for retail sales.”

Pitsker said he supports a separate ordinance through which the controls and zoning can be safe, secure, and above the requirements set forth by New Jersey state law.

“That’s not something I want in this town,” Councilwoman Toni Cilli said. “When you go to a liquor store, you’re not going through a vaulted door. So, I’m just going to disagree with the whole retail store thing.”

“Based on the tour of the medical retail dispensary and discussions on how this firm could handle adult use retail cannabis in the figure, I think Maplewood would be a very good model for Vernon to follow when developing our laws and zoning for retail sales.” Andrew Pitsker

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