COURT HOUSE – After voters approved a 2020 referendum allowing the recreational use of cannabis, there is currently no local cannabis retail operation in business in Cape May County, and there will likely not be one until June or July.
Neighboring Atlantic County has four medical and/or recreational cannabis dispensaries. Cumberland County has one.
Andrew Sick, an attorney for the applicant hoping to open the Sea & Leaf cannabis outlet in North Cape May, said his client is still waiting for approval from the state.
“We have submitted all materials to New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC). We are now waiting on final approval from them. They canceled their meeting for next month where they announce final approvals, so now it’s looking like we’ll have to wait until at least June or July,” he said.
A CRC spokesperson did not return a request for information before publication.
In February, Sick said it would take three or four months. His client, Depreet Singh, was a little more optimistic, hoping to open May 1.
An applicant in West Cape May was hoping to open April 20 to coincide with “420,” which is a slang term coined for smoking marijuana. According to snopes.com, the term has been traced back to a group of high school students from San Raphael High School in California. The suggestion that 420 was police radio code for marijuana possession was widely circulated but never substantiated.
A cannabis retail business to be named Shorehouse Cannabis is planned to open at 124 Sunset Blvd., West Cape May. The proposed operation of a cannabis retail store in West Cape May prompted a petition for a local referendum that would have prohibited cannabis sales within 1,000 feet of any residences, parks, or churches, effectively banning cannabis sales anywhere in the borough.
The borough successfully challenged the petition in Superior Court, claiming that the wording was unclear and the passage of the referendum would have resulted in a “silent repeal” of the borough’s ordinance, allowing the sales of cannabis.
The borough adopted an ordinance July 14, 2021, permitting the operation of certain cannabis businesses.
After the 2020 referendum, in February 2021, Gov. Phil Murphy signed a law legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, or marijuana, and setting limitations on how much was considered personal use and how it could be distributed.
In June 2021, Lower Township passed an ordinance permitting the issuance of two retail and two distribution licenses. The township Feb. 6 created an overlay zone in the commercial business (CB) zone where retail cannabis sales could take place. One location has been identified at the North Cape May Shopping Center.
Toni-Anne Blake, communications director for the CRC, confirmed that the May meeting had been canceled and the next meeting is scheduled for June 1 at 1 p.m. The meeting will be livestreamed via YouTube.
She said the agenda for the meeting will be posted a few days to a week in advance of the meeting.
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