NJ marijuana legalization: Here are the North Jersey towns that have said no

From staff reports
North Jersey Record

Anticipating that New Jersey soon will allow anyone 21 and older to buy and use marijuana, a number of North Jersey towns are responding with a message of their own: Count us out.

It's not clear what effect, if any, local anti-weed votes may have. State officials have maintained that local governments will be able to decide whether and where to allow marijuana retailers in their communities. In other states that have permitted marijuana sales, such as California and Colorado, many local governments have disallowed retail sales of the drug.

Here are the North Jersey towns that have banned recreational, medicinal or both types of marijuana ahead of the state's potential legalization:


An ordinance prohibits recreational marijuana sales, cultivation and social clubs. 


“We aren’t against medical use. If a company comes in and wants to do a warehouse, as long as they follow the law, we’re not going to fight that,” Carlstadt Mayor Craig Lahullier said.

“When you take an oath to uphold the Constitution, and federal law says it’s a no-no, it’s a no-no," Lahullier said. "I’m not going to allow marijuana shops to open up in our borough.”


The Township Committee in April passed an ordinance that bans the production, cultivation and retail sale of marijuana in any zone in the township.

Deputy Mayor Karen M. Swartz said the measure, initiated by Mayor Curt Ritter, stems from a belief that marijuana is a gateway to harder drug use and its sale would be inconsistent with township, school and civic programs that help young people avoid substance abuse.

“From a perspective of psychological wellness and mental health, the perils outweigh any potential benefits, whether recorded, documented or anecdotal,” Swartz said.

“Our job is to protect our municipality,” she said. “For us as municipal leaders to allow marijuana dispensaries is counterintuitive to all the good work being done in terms of mental health and substance abuse programs.”


The city voted unanimously to prohibit the selling and growing of recreational marijuana within city limits earlier in August, and the ordinance is just waiting to be adopted on second reading.

At the behest of Councilman Peter Eagler, his colleagues decided to model the new ordinance on the one adopted last December by Point Pleasant Borough. 

East Rutherford

The Borough Council voted unanimously to prohibit any dispensary intended for the sale of non-medical marijuana, or any of its psychoactive derivatives, throughout the borough. Hemp products are excluded from the ban.

If the state legalizes recreational marijuana use, Mayor Jim Cassella said, East Rutherford may need to pass two ordinances to opt out of legal sales: one for the borough and a second to cover the Meadowlands district.

Elmwood Park 

An ordinance prohibits businesses selling recreational marijuana and paraphernalia within one-quarter mile of a school, a place of worship, recreational fields or playgrounds, or in the business, residential or development zones, meaning there is nowhere in town it can lawfully be sold.

Franklin Lakes

Like many of the other municipalities in the area, Franklin Lakes banned the sale of recreational pot, and officials also worried about the health and safety of its residents when it passed the ordinance in June.

In the ordinance, it states that the sale of marijuana is not allowed in any of the zoning areas, with the exception of medical marijuana.

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The City Council approved a ban against the sale of weed within  municipal limits in February. While he personally does not oppose legalization and believes it has worked well in other states, Deputy Mayor Joseph Delaney said a small city like Garfield is not the right location for a dispensary.

The council has already restricted tobacco smoke shops to a portion of Route 46 and has taken steps to limit liquor licenses, Delaney said.

"We're gearing more towards restaurants and family-oriented businesses in the city," he said. "Selling marijuana wouldn't be the right fit."

Hasbrouck Heights 

The Borough Council voted 4-1 last February in favor of banning marijuana sales, making it one of the first towns in Bergen County to do so. The ban would not apply to sales of prescribed medical marijuana, which is legal in New Jersey. 


The Borough Council approved an ordinance on March 28 to prohibit the sale of medicinal and recreational marijuana.

“It was taken up as a zoning issue,” Mayor Richard Goldberg said Aug. 14. “Just like we don’t allow grocery stores and supermarkets in town, we don’t want marijuana dispensaries. It’s not an appropriate vision of our master plan.”


Banned all cannabis shops and/or retailers from the borough.


Despite pleas from medical marijuana activists, the borough is on the list of towns that chose to ban medical and recreational marijuana businesses.

The ban, which was approved in June, applies to cultivating, manufacturing, processing, warehousing, distributing and selling marijuana.

"We're putting this in place so there is no widespread rush to set up anything in our community," Mayor Emil Carafa said.


The Township passed an ordinance in December 2018 to ban the sale of medical and recreational marijuana, its derivatives and related paraphernalia. The zoning ordinance also forbids the growth, cultivation, storage or processing of marijuana or its derivatives within township borders. This ordinance will not govern the areas of Lyndhurst that fall within the state owned Meadowlands zone.


Mahwah's prohibitions, adopted unanimously by the Township Council in June, will block all marijuana establishments from opening in the township, including dispensaries, cultivation facilities and manufacturing plants. It does not apply to sales of prescribed medical marijuana, which is legal in New Jersey.

“The town has done a very good job over the last two decades of educating our kids on drugs,” Council President Robert Hermansen said. “This is the right message to send." 

Midland Park

Midland Park banned retail marijuana stores and manufacturing facilities earlier this spring.

A retired police officer, Mayor Harry Shortway Jr. said most of the 1,200 drug arrests he made while on the Ridgewood force were for marijuana-related offenses.

“As a police officer, I’m against marijuana,” Shortway said. “I don’t go for recreational marijuana. I don’t want to see any plants. I’ve pulled a lot of plants out of Ridgewood’s backyards.”


Montvale, in August 2018, approved an ordinance to prohibit marijuana establishments, including the cultivation, testing and manufacturing of marijuana.

The ordinance also prohibits advertising with signs, billboards or others. The ordinance does not include premises regularly in the business of selling and/or dispensing medical marijuana.

North Haledon

The Borough Council approved an ordinance to prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana on Feb. 21.

"The borough is all for medical marijuana,” Mayor Randy George said on Aug. 14.

This ordinance was adopted, he said, to “stop storefronts from selling marijuana for recreational use, because it’s a gateway drug. That’s what we preach in our schools, and that’s what our Municipal Alliance tells us. I have a friend on medical marijuana, and it’s done wonders for that friend. We just don’t want them to set up shop.”


The borough bans retail stores, cultivation facilities, manufacturing, testing, social clubs, cultivation, possession, storing, testing, labeling, transport, delivery, dispensing and distribution. It exempts medical marijuana use, dispensaries and caregivers.

Palisades Park 

The borough's ban covers the operation of medicinal and retail marijuana establishments including retail or paraphernalia stores, cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, testing facilities and retail marijuana social clubs.


The borough passed an ordinance in March 2018 excluding "cannabis shops and retailers" from a new ordinance regulating tobacco, smoke, and electronic/vapor substance inhalation shops.  Other shops have been designated a conditional use in its B-3 Business District


The Ringwood ordinance would prohibit the cultivation, processing, testing and sale of cannabis in the community. Ringwood's ban, unlike others in the area, is on course to join Hawthorne in Passaic County, in enacting an outright ban that includes medical marijuana.


Bans recreational and medicinal cannabis sales. A pending ordinance updates the ordinance to read “that contain the compound or chemical tetrahydrocannabinol or THC.

Saddle Brook 

The operation of recreational marijuana retail establishments, including marijuana cultivation, manufacturing and testing facilities, is banned.

Saddle River

The borough passed an ordinance last October prohibiting marijuana establishments.

"We will most likely need to pass something else in the future but that will depend on what the new legislation ends up being," said Administrator Jerry Giaimis.

Upper Saddle River

An ordinance passed last June bans the sale of marijuana and related products in all zones.  This includes retail and wholesale stores, cultivation facilities, manufacturing, testing and social clubs. 

However, the ordinance "shall not be construed to limit any privilege or rights of a qualifying patient, primary caregiver, registered or otherwise, or registered dispensary pursuant to the New Jersey Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act."


Bans the sale of marijuana and paraphernalia. Marijuana prescribed by a doctor and dispensed by a license pharmacist may still be sold.


The Township Council approved an ordinance on Sept. 5 to prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana.

“I think the governor is wrong,” Councilman Joseph Scuralli, who represents the township’s fourth ward, said at the time. “We need less drugs, not more drugs.”


The borough has banned sales of marijuana, both medicinal and recreational, despite some members of the public arguing that medical marijuana dispensaries should be permitted near Hackensack Meridian Health Pascack Valley Medical Center.

Woodcliff Lake 

The prohibitions, adopted unanimously by the Borough Council in June, bar businesses from selling, distributing, cultivating, growing or facilitating the sale or use of both recreational and medical marijuana. The sale of related paraphernalia was also banned.

“This is a very important ordinance for our community that addresses a very serious issue concerning the use and sale of marijuana,” Mayor Carlos Rendo said. “It’s not about money. It’s about health and safety.”


Wyckoff adopted an ordinance in July that banned the sale of marijuana within all zones in the township, stating in the ordinance that they believe the drug is "detrimental to public health, safety and welfare."

"This is uncharted territory, and I didn't think Wyckoff should be in the forefront of this change, if it is ever legalized," Mayor Brian Scanlan said. "I'd rather take the approach that we see what happens elsewhere first."

Scanlan said he is "quite conflicted whether it should be legaized" and is "personally opposed."

Staff Writers Kaitlyn Kanzler, James Nash, Marsha A. Stoltz, Phil DeVencentis, Kristie Cattafi, Katie Sobko, Meghan Grant, Peggy Wright, Stephanie Noda and Nicholas Katzban contributed to this article.