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Monty Twp to Opt Out of Cannabis Business, for Now

By Barbara A. Preston l July 9, 2021

Although 64 percent of Montgomery Township voters supported legalization of cannabis in the 2020 general election, Montgomery Township Committee members unanimously instructed the township attorney on July 1 to draft an ordinance to opt out of the cannabis business

The ordinance—which would allow the township to opt in once the state better defines the rules and regulations—is expected to be introduced at the next township committee meeting, scheduled for Thursday, July 15, at 7 pm via Zoom.

After many months of discussion at public meetings, Mayor Devra Keenan, who says she personally favors legalization, concluded "there is no need to rush into" the cannabis business.

"There are a lot of unknowns," she said at the most recent township committee meeting.

The new state law, enacted in January, permits adults, age 21 and older, to legally purchase cannabis products in New Jersey, and even have it delivered to their home in Montgomery, she said.

The only question before Montgomery Township Committee—with a looming deadline of August 21—is whether to opt-in or opt-out to allow the operation within Montgomery Township of any of six classes of cannabis businesses, including retail establishments, Keenan said.

"If we opt-in,” she says, "we are committing to that decision for the next five years. If we opt-out, we can reconsider that decision at any time."

Keenan noted that township committee members have "all done our research, attended numerous presentations, and gathered input from many folks including our own professionals."

"However," she added, "there are still many many unknowns. In fact, the specific rules and regulations are still being developed by the newly established Cannabis Regulatory Commission at the state. So we have been given very little time to make important planning, zoning, and regulation decisions.

"We also have not heard from a single entrepreneur, venture capitalist or corporation expressing interest in locating a cannabis business in Montgomery. Moving forward quickly would therefore be largely symbolic."

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"It makes sense to take our time, and to continue to gather more input as we await further direction from the state. We can also learn from the experience of municipalities that are moving forward first, including neighbors like Franklin Township."

Montgomery Township Attorney Wendy Rubinstein is in the process of drafting an opt-out ordinance for all six licenses, to be introduced at the July 15 township committee meeting.


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