Four days earlier than NJ Governor Murphy signed into regulation laws creating an grownup use hashish business in New Jersey, a NJ appellate court docket issued a choice on February 18, 2021 resolving preliminary appeals from a 2019 spherical of medical marijuana license functions.  The resolution permits that 2019 spherical of functions to maneuver ahead after vital delay, however extra importantly for folks excited about making use of for an grownup use license, the choice supplies the primary judicial steerage on just a few widespread software necessities.

New Jersey’s hashish license software course of has traditionally required candidates to submit responses to a “Part A” obligatory info part and an in depth “Part B” part that’s scored.  Three of the obligatory Part A questions have required candidates to supply proof of (i) municipal approval, (ii) web site management and (iii) compliance with native codes.  The appellate ruling clarified what’s required to fulfill these questions.

To exhibit “municipal approval” candidates are required to supply proof of “written verification of the approval of the community or governing body of the municipality in which the [ATC] … will be located.” The Department of Health (DOH) has acknowledged that proof of municipal approval could possibly be some type of “documentation that the municipal government … is in favor of … [an ATC] operating within that particular jurisdiction.”  The DOH had instructed that this commonplace required some kind of governmental indication of approval.  But the Appellate Division clarified that the municipal approval requirement contained in N.J.A.C. 8:64-7.1(b)(2)(x) may be glad with documentation demonstrating help of members of the group or the municipality’s governing physique — each usually are not required. The court docket then reversed the DOH’s willpower that an applicant who submitted with its Part A software three letters of help from distinguished members of the group wherein they deliberate to open failed to fulfill that requirement.  The court docket concluded that three letters of help from distinguished group members glad the “community support” choice beneath the municipal approval requirement. The court docket agreed with the DOH that the next submissions didn’t fulfill the municipal approval requirement in Part A: (i) a proposed host group settlement signed by the applicant, however not by the city; (ii) a binding choice to lease a property from a member of the group – that’s, the help of a single property proprietor is inadequate to fulfill “community support”; (iii) help letters from revered group leaders submitted with Part B of the applying however not included with Part A. That final discovering additionally makes clear that candidates ought to submit all info that’s aware of Part A as an attachment to the Part A software.

To exhibit “site control” candidates are required to submit written “evidence of ownership or lease of the proposed site.” The DOH has acknowledged that candidates may submit “conditional letters of agreement or leases” for the property the place they supposed to find however didn’t want an precise signed lease or to personal the property.  The DOH has suggested that candidates should submit ample info to exhibit that the applicant has “exclusive rights to that property” and that “a lease or a purchase can be executed quickly.”  The Appellate Division agreed with the DOH that an applicant’s submission of a letter of intent to buy a property, which expressly acknowledged it was not binding, didn’t fulfill the positioning management requirement.  Similarly poor was a letter from a city stating that it was prepared to work with the applicant to determine city owned property that could possibly be used for an ATC.

A 3rd requirement of Part A has been the requirement to exhibit compliance with native zoning codes.  The DOH has been clear that last zoning approval is just not required, however has suggested that candidates ought to embrace “a map or documentation of the ATC at its proposed location being [in] compliance with local ordinances.”  The Appellate Division agreed with the DOH that an aerial map of a proposed ATC location was inadequate to exhibit compliance with native ordinances the place nothing on the map confirmed the space from the proposed ATC to a faculty, any locations of worship or different locations doubtlessly affected by native ordinances.  Similarly a letter opinion from an lawyer stating that an ATC was not a prohibited use on the proposed location was inadequate partly as a result of the letter admitted {that a} earlier try to find an ATC close by was rejected and the lawyer solely opined that there was “a good chance” the city could possibly be “convinced” to approve the applying.

This steerage from the court docket will hopefully keep away from some widespread software pitfalls every time the primary grownup use license functions turn out to be obtainable probably later this yr.


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