By JOHN T. WARD
Jumping in on New Jersey’s legalization of adult-use marijuana, a local homebuilder hopes to win approval for a growing facility in Red Bank, redbankgreen has learned.
In January, homebuilder Charlie Farkouh filed an application with the borough planning office to convert a warehouse on East Leonard Street to a “medical marijuana growing facility.”
The operation would be conducted “in accordance with state regulations,” and would have “no store front,” the application states, with the last two words underlined.
Farkouh, a Rumson resident who has built a number of homes on Red Bank’s West Side, including the River’s Edge townhouses on the western end of Bank Street, did not respond to requests for more information.
Because the building is in a light industrial zone, his request was denied, and Farkouh needs a use variance to proceed.
Medical use of marijuana has been legal since 2010, though only 15 retail dispensaries have been licensed to operate.
In 2020, New Jersey voters approved a change to the state constitution to legalize possession and use of marijuana by individuals aged 21 and older. The measure, endorsed by 67 percent of voters, also legalized the cultivation, processing and retail sale of “adult-use” cannabis.
State licenses for growing, processing, distributing and selling the product are needed. According to 3C Consulting, an industry advisory firm, only 37 licenses for growing marijuana will be issued in the first two years of legal sales, but the limit “does not apply to micro licenses with ten or fewer employees and 2,500 square feet of canopy space.”
Farkouh’s application does not indicate the size of the growing facility or number of employees. It also does not answer whether the operation intends to serve the non-medical market.
Licenses are to be administered by the state’s newly formed Cannabis Regulatory Commission, and it will take “months, if not a full year, for new dispensaries to begin selling weed to the general public,” according to a report Monday on on NJ.com. Meantime, customers of the state’s 15 licensed medical cannabis sellers “often complain of product shortages, high prices and long lines,” the report said.
In 2018, the Red Bank council approved an ordinance that treats “alternative treatment centers,” or medical marijuana dispensaries, as retail establishments, but does not address non-medical usage or growing operations.
At the conclusion of its March 18 meeting, the zoning board’s secretary said a “medical cannabis” application was scheduled to be heard May 20, but redbankgreen has been unable to learn if that was a reference to the Farkouh plan.
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