After Gov. Phil Murphy signed into law P.L. 2021,c.16, known as the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, it was only a matter of time before Voorhees passed an official ordinance allowing retail sales of cannabis in the township.
The law legalizes the recreational use of marijuana and establishes a comprehensive regulatory and licensing process for commercial recreational use. Mario DiNatale, the township’s director of community and economic development, summarized the process.
“Anyone interested in selling cannabis must obtain a license from the state of New Jersey, somewhat similar to the liquor-licenses review,” he said.
The reason for introducing legal cannabis is to bring a new source of revenue for the township. DiNatale provided some convservative projections based on national averages.
“At this point, we don’t have any cannabis providers in town, so we do not have any of their estimates,” he explained. “Based on the national average, a retailer selling on average $2 million per year, with up to five potential retailers, the township could yield approximately $200,000 in usage tax, plus (potentially) another $200,000 to $300,000 in gross property taxes.
‘’But please remember, these are based on the national averages,” DiNatale added.
The township is optimistic about the cannabis ordinance, believing it will serve as a net positive for the community, even if some residents aren’t cannabis users.
“We’ve had multiple people come to us [already] asking for more information on how to start a business here. We’re really looking at this as pro-business,” noted Township Administrator Larry Spellman.
He also pointed out that the ordinance and overlay maps may be confusing at the moment.
“These really are [a lot of] questions, because we just got off of an hour-long call this morning,” Spellman explained. “Part of the deal is that we had to get these things put in place so quickly. There was a Dec. 31 opt in deadline for the township. If we did not do that, we essentially lost our control.”
The ordinance restricts retail locations and specifies that no cannabis dispensary can be built within 500 feet of a house or 1,000 feet of a playground..
“I would recommend any reader interested in the ordinance become familiar with it by visiting our township website,” DiNatale advised. “There is a full breakdown there. There are certain setbacks for each type of zone that may be anywhere from 500 feet up to 1,000 depending on the type of existing use that it borders.”