3 Secaucus City Council Voted Against Recreational Pot Sales

SECAUCUS, NJ — There is a split in the Secaucus City Council over the proposal to allow Harmony to expand into recreational marijuana and allow other recreational cannabis businesses to open in town.

In March, City Council — at the request of Mayor Mike Gonnelli — introduced Ordinance 2022-9, which would allow recreational potty businesses to open in Secaucus. The order would end this Secaucus ban passed in 2018, which banned recreational pot shops.

However, at the March 22 meeting, three Council members voted against allowing recreational pot sales: Councilor Orietta Tringali, Councilor Jim Clancy and Councilor Bill McKeever all voted against. The other four council members — Gonnelli and councilors Rob Costantino, John Gerbasio and Mark Dehnert — voted to move the ordinance forward.

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The proposal was then sent to the Planning Council, which raised no objections, and will now come back to the Council for the second and final reading when it meets next Tuesday evening, May 10. Gonnelli and Costantino said they expected the Council to approve it. next Tuesday, and the ordinance will become municipal law.

“I believe Bill came and will vote for Tuesday night,” Gonnelli said Thursday, May 5. “Once he saw the numbers, how much tax revenue it will bring to the city, he changed his mind.”

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Tringali and Clancy have not changed their minds, and remain opposed.

Tringali, a retired Secaucus teacher, said she plans to vote “no” again on Tuesday night.

“I’m just worried about the kids. We already have a problem with vaping in schools. Now we’re putting legal pot on them,” she told Patch on Thursday. “I know you have to be 18 to legally buy (weed) in New Jersey, but I’m just worried. I’m really thinking about the kids, all the young people. I’m worried about them. Marijuana can really impact brain development in young people.”

Tringali said she would prefer to see how legal pot sales go in other cities, and then Secaucus can move forward.

But Gonnelli said he wanted to allow recreational pot sales simply because “of the tax revenue it will bring in”.

“Look, I really don’t like that stuff; I don’t do it, I don’t smoke it,” Gonnelli said. “A few years ago, marijuana wasn’t legal. But now it is. Ultimately, it’s here to stay. It’s not going away.”

“It’s expensive to run this city,” the mayor continued. “Look at the economy right now, inflation is up, we’re hurting. Our commercial parking lots are still not full; the hotels in town are far from busy. It’s costing money to run this town, to keep things like the pool free. And the costs are going up.”

He said Harmony, the existing medical marijuana dispensary on Castle Road, brings in about $400,000 in tax revenue each year. He said if Harmony expands into selling recreational pot, he expects their tax revenue to grow to $1 million a year.

“That’s a lot of money. As it is right now, we’re probably going to get a little tax increase this year,” the mayor said. “It’s very difficult right now to keep taxes stable.”

Harmony didn’t apply for a license to expand into recreational marijuana sales — likely because Secaucus still has that 2018 ban on the books.

But Gonnelli said he expects Harmony to apply for a recreational license later this year, especially if the city lifts the 2018 ban.

“And if they are not allowed to sell drugs and recreational pot, they will not stay in Secaucus,” he said. “They will pick up and move to Union City, North Bergen, Jersey City. They will go elsewhere.”

Tringali said she knew allowing recreational cannabis would make “a lot of money for taxpayers. But I think we could try to find the money elsewhere.”

She said a few Secaucus residents thanked her for her first “no” vote, but she’s not looking for praise. “I have to vote my conscience.”

Gonnelli said he welcomed the city council debate; “We don’t agree and we bicker all the time. It’s fine.”

Clancy and McKeever did not immediately return to Patch for this article.

The order that will likely be approved next Tuesday is quite limited: recreational pot businesses would only be allowed to open in the existing warehouse on Castle Road which is already home to Harmony. Secaucus would allow Harmony to expand into recreational pot sales, and they or another company could also be allowed to grow marijuana inside that building.

No marijuana would be allowed to be grown outdoors and on-site consumption would not be permitted, meaning it would be illegal for anyone to smoke marijuana or eat edibles indoors or outdoors. building exterior. Additionally, you must be 18 to legally buy marijuana in New Jersey.

Councilman Costantino said he considers marijuana alcohol.

“You have to be of legal age, responsible and also responsible if the rules are broken,” he said.

“It has been approved in the state by about 70% of the population,” he continued. “We were one of the first cities to allow medical marijuana in the state and there have been little to no issues since. If we allow recreation, we can have more control over where and when. it can be sold and use the proceeds to offset budget issues and any impact it may have.We visited the current medical facility and felt very comfortable with this operation.

Secaucus was chosen by the State of New Jersey to enable the Harmony Medical Pottery Store to open in 2018; the town of Secaucus had no say when Harmony opened its doors. The state just chose Secaucus as one of the first cities for a medical marijuana store.

The history of legal marijuana in Secaucus:

Secaucus City Council bans recreational marijuana sales in town (2018)

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