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Council Introduces Ordinance to “Opt Out” of Allowing Cannabis Businesses

Posted: July 16, 2021

The township council unanimously introduced an ordinance to “opt-out” of allowing cannabis businesses in Randolph Township at its July 8, 2021 council meeting.

The ordinance is scheduled for second reading and public hearing at the council’s next regular meeting on July 22, 2021. Should the council vote to adopt the ordinance on second reading, it would opt Randolph out of all licensing classes available through the new cannabis legislation signed by Governor Murphy in February.

The council based its action on the recommendation of the Randolph Cannabis Subcommittee appointed earlier in the year to study the issue. The recommendations of the subcommittee are summarized in a report presented to the council at its June 24, 2021 meeting and available on the township website.

The council cited several reasons for its decision to “opt-out,” among those of which included the lack of final statewide rules and regulations, and the potential spillover impacts cannabis businesses could have on neighboring properties. The state Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) is presently developing the new rules and regulations, but it could be months before finalization and adoption. A fundamental understanding of these rules and regulations is integral for the township to fully assess potential impacts of an “opt-in” decision.

Additionally, the council acknowledged that there are many other quality of life factors which must be weighed in permitting the operation of local cannabis businesses. These factors include potential odor impacts on neighboring properties, the demand certain cannabis businesses can have on scarce water resources, and other potential impacts of traffic and crime. These issues require more study, which cannot be properly completed prior to the August deadline set by the state legislation.

The council, in introducing the “opt-out” ordinance on July 8, 2021, made it clear that it is not opposed to reconsidering its position on local cannabis business operation as more information becomes available in the future. Under the state legislation, municipalities may “opt-in” at any future time after initially opting out.

Residents interested in learning more about the process the township utilized in reviewing the “opt-in”/“opt-out” decision are encouraged to visit the township website.