Though the locations of the next six medical marijuana dispensaries haven't yet been decided, the wheels have started turning to prepare for one in Newark.
On Tuesday, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka proposed an ordinance to the Municipal Council amending the zoning and land use regulation plan to limit the authorization of cannabis dispensaries to specific areas.
The ordinance is a response to a series of town hall meetings and discussions in which Newark residents and stakeholders voiced their concerns about marijuana dispensaries to the administration.
"We are updating our planning and zoning ordinances to reflect our desire to create areas where medical cannabis activities may take place,” Baraka said in a statement.
The change permits medical marijuana dispensaries in institutional, hospital zones and light industrial zones. Cultivation, manufacturing and compliance facilities are permitted in industrial zones.
“These have been identified as 'Green Zones,' ” Baraka continued. “Dispensaries will be permitted in close proximity to other medical facilities and in light industrial areas. This ordinance will reduce the burden on Newark residents who use medical marijuana and must now travel miles to secure that treatment."
The proposed ordinance also requires a 200-foot buffer zone between medical marijuana dispensaries and schools, colleges and parks.
The draft ordinance was referred to the Planning Board for review.
"I support the expansion of the state's medical cannabis program to Newark,” Baraka said. “We believe that medical marijuana dispensaries promote the health and welfare of cannabis patients.”