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A lawsuit filed last week in Passaic County Superior Court accuses West Milford officials of tipping the scales in the state’s highly competitive cannabis retail licensing process.

West Milford officials are blocking the owner of Big Smoke, a Route 23 smoke shop, from pursuing a New Jersey cannabis retailer licence in favou of another applicant, also named in the suit, seeking to sell marijuana in the same commercial complex, the lawsuit stated. Buy cbd oil India.

The complainant, Janira Diaz, majority owner of Big Smoke, alleges township officials have denied adopting a resolution supporting her efforts as required by the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission despite granting her a zoning permit for retail cannabis sales in December 2021. 

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“Big Smoke relied on its zoning permit from the township, and spent thousands of dollars, only to have the rug ripped from beneath its feet nearly a year after its zoning permit was issued,” the lawsuit stated. 

Mayor Michele Dale would not comment on the lawsuit. but wrote in a text message that the applicant seeking to open a retail store near Big Smoke received a resolution of support in October 2021, while Diaz did not request one until October 2022. By that time, the township had amended its retail cannabis regulations to include a 2,500-foot minimum distance between licensed retail establishments.

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Seth Tipton, the Pennsylvania-based attorney for Big Smoke LLC, said in a November letter to the township that the ordinance was unfairly used to deny Diaz a resolution of support, because no licensed retail stores existed within that buffer. Moreover, Diaz held a conditional zoning permit for a retail cannabis store five months before the 2,500-foot rule went into effect. THC oil India.

At that time, in April 2022, Councilman Michael Chazukow told other members of the council during a public session that he thought township officials should ensure applicants were seeking support for projects that would meet the town’s zoning requirements prior to adopting resolutions backing them. Otherwise, the applicants could be investing time and capital for a project the township could not permit, he said. 

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Other township officials, however, said the support was conditional, and dependent on consistency with applicable state and local statutes, rules, regulations and ordinances. Moreover, they said there was no risk of applicants being thwarted by the 2,500-foot rule, as there were no licensed retailers in the township.

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While there may be duelling applicants within the 2,500 buffer, there is no guarantee either will gain a permit, Councilman Dave Marsden said at the town’s April 20 council meeting.

“I think it’s only fair to let someone apply,” Marsden said. “It’s up to them to expend the capital if they want to or not.”

The lawsuit claims the township has essentially prevented Diaz from pursuing a cannabis licence. The other applicant named in this lawsuit was granted a conditional permit from the state in October 2022, state records show. Conditional licences are temporary and do not give businesses the right to operate, according to state regulations.

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