The End of Prohibition in Teaneck? [Part 2]

To speak to the council regarding the Ordinance below, you may click the link here:

Members of the public can speak about the ordinance (full text and link below) for up to 3 minutes each.

Passcode: 349292

Teaneck came out overwhelmingly in favor of the public question held in November 2020.

New Jersey Public Question 1, the Marijuana Legalization Amendment, was on the ballot in New Jersey as a legislatively referred constitutional amendment on November 3, 2020. Public Question 1 was approved.

“yes” vote supported this constitutional amendment to legalize the possession and use of marijuana for persons age 21 and older and legalize the cultivation, processing, and sale of retail marijuana.

A “no” vote opposed this constitutional amendment to legalize the possession and use of marijuana and the cultivation, processing, and sale of retail marijuana in New Jersey.

Overwhelmingly supported Statewide:

New Jersey Public Question 1
Result Votes Percentage
Approved Yes 2,737,682 67.08%
No 1,343,610 32.92%
Results are officially certified.

Overwhelmingly supported in Teaneck:

With the majority of voters having spoken and the State creating a framework, the Township Council created a subcommittee to meet and discuss options.

The State eventually came up with a complicated licensing scheme.

Licenses will exist as follows:

The ability of municipalities to regulate licenses exists for Classes 1-5.  Delivery MUST BE PERMITTED in any municipality in NJ as per the State and there is no way for a local municipality to prevent a delivery service from being licensed or operating in their town.

With this framework in mind, the cannabis subcommittee met with various individuals and groups.

Among those meeting with the subcommittee included:

  • The Town Manager, Zoning officials, and the Health Department
  • Individuals wishing to express interest in opening a shop in Teaneck
  • Medical dispensary owners wishing to provide feedback
  • Legal groups, attorneys, and advisors
  • Owners of stores in States which have legalized dispensaries (to receive feedback)
  • There were many more, as well.

Individuals in this space came from a great cross-section of our township, including union shops, black-owned businesses and others.

Neighboring Towns

We also took a look at what neighboring municipalities have been doing with regards to cannabis.


In Hackensack, the City took a very aggressive approach to licensing.  The City passed Ordinance 30-2021.

  • Dispensary: Through a method called “overlay zoning”, section 175-4.4 (“CANNABIS RETAIL OVERLAY ZONE (CROZ)”), they will allow a dispensary.

Any licensed person or entity that purchases or otherwise obtains usable cannabis from cannabis cultivators and cannabis items from cannabis manufacturers or cannabis wholesalers, and sells these to consumers from a retail store, and may use a cannabis delivery service or a certified cannabis handler for the off-premises delivery of cannabis items and related supplies to consumers. A cannabis retailer shall also accept consumer purchases to be fulfilled from its retail store that are presented by a cannabis delivery service which will be delivered by the cannabis delivery service to that consumer. This person or entity shall hold a Class 5 cannabis Retailer license.

  • Cultivator: Through section 175-4.5 (“CANNABIS CULTIVATION OVERLAY ZONE (CCOZ)”), they will allow Marijuana growing

Any licensed person or entity that grows, cultivates or produces cannabis in this State, and sells, and may transport, this cannabis to other cannabis cultivators, or usable cannabis to cannabis manufacturers, cannabis wholesalers, or cannabis retailers, but not to consumers. This person or entity shall hold a Class 1 Cannabis Cultivator license


In Englewood, the Council initially voted to ban cannabis city-wide, citing the desire to see finished rules, noting some objections from Council members.  However, the Mayor of Englewood, citing the will of the voters, vetoed the ordinance ban.  If no further action is taken, the City of Englewood will have cannabis available City-wide.


After months of meetings, we shared results with the Council as well as the zoning subcommittee.  We spoke with the Council at an open public meeting and an ordinance was requested from the Township Attorney based on our recommendations.

Ordinance 29-2021 was introduced at our July 13th meeting and will receive a vote at an open public hearing on August 10th.

You may log into the meeting here (starting at 8pm):
Password: 349292

The ordinance is based on several key factors:

  1. We don’t know what all of the eventual rules will be
    For this reason, we did NOT include our typical business districts (e.g. Cedar Lane, Teaneck Road, DeGraw or The Plaza in the first round of licensing).
  2. Businesses may not apply for licensure in towns with a complete ban (even if that ban will amended in the future)
    If you want to open a restaurant, you can scope out a location, buy a liquor license and do what you need to set everything up, before you even mention you will open.  In the cannabis context, if a town does not permit the establishment, you cannot obtain or even apply for a license.  For that reason, if we had a town-wide ban, no businesses would be able to apply for a license to operate here.  We would essentially ensure that all the large players in the field choose other locations, being stuck with whatever was left, as an option.
  3. Our Light Industrial area needs a re-boot
    We have an area in our Light Industrial District that has been in desperate need of a new vision.  With Light Industrial uses fading and prices per square foot rising in our area, the Light Industrial Zone has suffered.  Tractor-trailers regularly park there and calls to report illegal dumping have led to police trying to find violators.

With that in mind, the subcommittee members took part in a couple of site visits and spoke with people in the area of Alfred Avenue.

This is Alfred Avenue


Our initial licensing scheme will permit, subject to various requirements, medical dispensaries throughout our business districts and Class 1 – 5 licenses in the Alfred Avenue L-I zone.

It’s worth noting that not all of the Alfred Avenue area will be zoned for these licenses.  We took care not to include the lots near residential areas, and the lots adjacent to the lots next to residential areas.

I would encourage you to read the ordinance.  It has provisions such as:

  • Dimensional, density and other bulk restrictions
  • Location restrictions (Lots 4-9 of Block 6002)
  • Hours of Operation restrictions
  • Prohibitions on Outdoor Cultivation
  • Prohibitions against on-site consumption
  • Odor / Noise Controls
  • Lighting and Security requirements

And of course, all of this will be subject to strict site plan approval and even stricter age requirements.

Local Transfer Tax

The State permits the municipality to receive a share of taxation on cannabis related activities/sales as follows:

  • 2% of the receipts from each sale by a cannabis cultivator
  • 2% of the receipts from each sale by a cannabis manufacturer
  • 1% of the receipts from each sale by a cannabis wholesaler
  • 2% of the receipts from each sale by a cannabis retailer
  • and an equivalent user tax on non-sale transactions between cannabis businesses operated by the same license holder payable to the Township of Teaneck.

The future

It is impossible to know what the future looks like, but there are certain realities.  Among them, legalization is in high demand, and the voters have decidedly come out in favor of the legalization of cannabis in our town.

There is no longer a debate as to whether this is coming.  The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (NJCRC) has been established to oversee this deployment and address issues that may arise.

We must focus on what is best for our community.

It’s a sad fact that children are now preyed upon by unscrupulous individuals that make a lot of money peddling illegal narcotics.  The failed drug war of the past decades has done nothing to stem the proliferation of drugs in our communities.  But this is not a capitulation to failure.  This is a way to take control of our future and ensure the safety of our children.

By controlling markets, we remove demand from those peddling illegal drugs.

As demand falls for those unlicensed transactions, we will reap many benefits, in terms of safety and security (legal locations will not sell to minors), taxation (revenue to help support programming in the Township) and we will remove the focus from our law enforcement community (decreasing confrontations between law-abiding consumers and police), as this becomes a legal enterprise.

For certain, this will not mean the end of illegal transactions.  One need only remember Eric Garner, who died while selling loose cigarettes — in violation of NY’s laws.  But it does minimize the number of illegal transactions and confrontations with law enforcement.  Demand will transfer as legal avenues open.

As Mayor Wildes mentioned, the NJCRC has included licensing provisions to ensure that minority, women, and disabled veteran applicants, as well as micro-businesses owned by New Jersey residents, and applicants who will operate in and/or hire employees from economic impact zones have opportunities to enter the industry at the ground floor.

The subcommittee has met with two groups in this category, wishing to seek opportunities in Teaneck.

This is just our first step, not the last when it comes to licensing. Further conversations will be had and community input will be a large part of that conversation.

I hope you will join us in the discussion.

The End of Prohibition in Teaneck? [Part 1]