The Garden State is on-track to making cannabis among the crops it’s known for, with continued rapid expansion of the state’s medical marijuana program and the pending launch of recreational pot facilities.
There are a few communities currently considering plans. A handful of others already have been adjusting to legal medical grow sites as new neighbors, while a few spots in South Jersey have embraced the job creation that comes with the new business.
It can be a contentious relationship — such as in one Hunterdon County town, which this month reversed course on previous plans and prohibited any cannabis facilities from being set up in the community.
After initial approval was signaled as far back as 2018, Alexandria Township backtracked amid criticism from residents and squashed a planned cultivation site along Airport Road — as well as any future cannabis facilities.
The township council voted in support of the specific plans from Altus back in November — before a subsequent public meeting in December drew throngs of residents, worrying primarily about strong odors from a cannabis grow site.
A full house was also present for a vote at its January meeting. The Township Council then made its resolution official on Wednesday, prohibiting any kind of cannabis sites.
Altus already has gotten approval from Flemington to open a medical marijuana dispensary at The Shoppes at Flemington.
A vacant property along South Washington Avenue in Bergenfield, formerly a Sears store, could become a cannabis grow site under a proposal being considered by the community.
In December, the Borough Council passed a resolution offering support for Eleven Eleven Wellness.
“We understand this is a sensitive issue. It’s a long process. If we don’t start, we won’t see where it leads,” Mayor Arvin Amatorio said in a statement to NorthJersey.com. “This is right at the border of town. It would not cause any disturbance or detriment to the residents.”
In Union County, two locations have been pitched as medical marijuana grow sites in Rahway — one of them the site of the former Galaxy Diner.
The Rahway City Council approved resolutions in December “supporting the establishment and operation of facilities for cannabis cultivation and/or manufacturing” at the following properties:
Aeterna LLC, 211 East Inman Ave.
Saucey Farms, 293 St. Georges Ave.
Columbia Care’s existing medical marijuana dispensary and 50,000-square-foot cultivation and production facility in Vineland completed its first harvest in July.
The company has been seeking approvals for a second cultivation and production facility, also in Vineland, that would provide 250,000 square feet of additional canopy, manufacturing and distribution space, pending regulatory approval.
In the meantime, the company has opened a second dispensary in Deptford, to serve more patients registered with the state’s program.
With three medical dispensaries up and running in Camden and Burlington Counties, Curaleaf
tripled its cultivation capabilities with a new facility in Winslow Township opened in June.
The sprawling cultivation site covers 1230,000 square feet.
Egg Harbor Township is home to another leading cannabis grow site, with roughly 85,000 square feet for cultivation and manufacturing by Acreage Holdings.
The vertically integrated operator boosted its production back in October to supply its three “The Botanist” medical dispensaries in Egg Harbor Township, Williamstown and Atlantic City.
Of the cultivation sites up and running, one in Morris County had its share of neighborly concerns as it started out.
TerrAscend, one of six applicants granted a license to grow, process and dispense medical marijuana in late 2018, fielded complaints from neighboring Denville about the strong odor as its farm and greenhouse in Boonton first opened in summer 2020.
Since then, TerrAscend has been given permits for medical dispensaries, both named The Apothecarium, in Phillipsburg and Maplewood.
Air filtration improvements were installed and helped considerably at the cultivation site, according to a Denville Township Council meeting a year ago as reported by TapInto.
Verano, a national operator of vertically-integrated cannabis cultivation, opened its cultivation site along Route 22, at a former Walmart property that straddles Readington and Branchburg.
The company also owns ZenLeaf medical marijuana dispensaries in Elizabeth, Neptune and Lawrence Township.
In August 2021, the site was fined by the state Department of Environmental Protection, after two verified complaints about the strong odor that was coming from the facility, MyCentralJersey.com reported.
A spokesperson for Verano Holdings said at the time that air filtration upgrades were being made.
This past summer, a new medical cultivation and processing site for Harmony Foundation started to take shape along Route 94 at the former Schering-Plough site, as reported by NJ Herald.
The company was one of the state’s original rounds of approved medical marijuana dispensaries, with a location in Secaucus.
Unlike former retail sites closer to residential neighbors, a farm property in Morris County eased into the cannabis growing front, after years of preparation.
Hillview was among cannabis permits granted in October by the state.
In November, the Pequannock Township Council approved a resolution, allowing the conditional use of its site as a cannabis manufacturing facility.
Justice Cannabis Co. (formerly Justice Grown) broke ground on its indoor cultivation facility in Ewing Township in late 2019, at a North Olden Avenue site that formerly was home to Verizon, as reported by CommunityNews.
In its first phase, the cultivation center immediately began growing medical cannabis flower, as plans included “34,000 square feet of medical cannabis canopy within the 75,000 square foot location.”
A second phase would include production of manufactured medical cannabis products, according to the company’s website.
A Monmouth County town could wind up becoming home to the first legal grow site for recreational marijuana, depending on the state’s licensing for such locations.
To clear the way, the Ocean Township Council in January endorsed “Illicit Extracts” to pursue a license to grow at 1700 Brielle Avenue, a sizable vacant property near Seaview Square mall and Route 18.
If approved by the state, the company would then need approval from Ocean Township Planning Board, as reported by Asbury Park Press.
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