West Milford Council defines ‘park,’ sets buffers for cannabis locations

| 23 May 2022 | 09:55

An amendment updating the existing cannabis control ordinance that sets allowable distances between businesses, parks, schools and other cannabis businesses was adopted on May 18 by the Township of West Milford Council, with a request that any required amendments be put on the agenda for discussion at the next council meeting. Councilman Warren Gross was the only council member to vote against passage of the document.

The purpose of updating the ordinance was to better define “parks.” Three concerned women from the audience told the council that all parks — not just those owned by the township, county or state — must be included in the child-safe distance control considerations. They pointed out that lake community parks and playgrounds for private schools, for example, need to be under the park-distance provisions as well as government ones, and presently they are not.

“There are private parks all over the place,” Councilwoman Ada Erik shared. “They are not run by a government nor are they large enough to meet the minimum lot size mentioned in the ordinance.”

The council passed a resolution last month supporting the efforts of Robert Marti’s Canabhang cannabis business at 24 Marshall Hill Road but a second resolution was necessary and adopted Wednesday because the state requires such businesses to use their corporate rather than “doing business as” name.

The building, across from the shopping center on Marshall Hill Road is the former location for P & A Computers and VapeLite. A new cannabis business known as Elevated Herb LLC, at 1846 Route 23 in Newfoundland, was approved by the council last Wednesday.

On Jan. 18, 2010, then-Governor Jon Corzine signed the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act that provided for the legalization of medicated marijuana and creation of a program to allow persons suffering from qualifying debilitating medical conditions to obtain medical marijuana in a safe, timely, compassionate manner. In 2018 the state amended the regulations to expand the scope of citizens to whom medical marijuana may be prescribed and made it more accessible and available to the many citizens who need it. On Nov. 3, 2021, the marijuana legalization amendment was approved by New Jersey voters that legalized the possession and use of cannabis for residents 21 years and older.

In March the Council amended two ordinances to allow cannabis businesses to operate as a permitted use in all township zones except residential. During a discussion at that time, Councilman Michael Chazukow said that by passing laws to control cannabis activities in the township, the council is giving enforcement agencies the control power they need, which is what residents, in so many words, have been asking for. He noted that cannabis is medicine for some people suffering from cancer and other diseases.