Trenton reverses course on cannabis, doubles number of dispensaries –

The Trenton City Council on Thursday made significant reversals in its ordinance laying out legal marijuana sales, opting to include the city’s downtown for dispensary locations and doubling the number allowed to 10.

The ordinance passed 5-1 following a contentious, nearly five-hour special meeting that included a number of last-minute amendments, which spurred vigorous debate, including a few shouting matches, as well as a public input session with 28 speakers.

West Ward Councilwoman Robin Vaughn voted against the measure. Council President Kathy McBride, who sponsored the law, was on the virtual meeting for hours, but was absent by the time the final vote was taken.

Afterwards, Mayor Reed Gusciora said he was happy that, “good reason prevailed.” His administration was unable to get the expanded version in front of council before Thursday. “I am pleased that the council did the right thing,” he said.

The first reading of the ordinance, introduced earlier this month, called for five marijuana dispensaries in the city, and limited them to three areas – not including the downtown business areas.

That version was roundly criticized by some city officials, including Gusciora, and city business owners, including Ed “NJ Weedman” Forchion, who all argued that more dispensaries mean more financial opportunity for the city, and locations downtown would be a needed boon that hopefully would bring more visitors and trickle-down dollars to existing businesses.

Before the meeting, At-Large Councilman Jerell Blakeley pledged to add amendments for 10 dispensaries and the inclusion of the downtown district, and he did Thursday, following a blistering criticism of the city’s downtown.

Trenton’s downtown, “Is one of the worst downtowns I have ever visited,” he said. One can count the restaurants on two hands, the flagship business is a dollar store, and one cannot buy a TV downtown, but they can buy drugs,” he said.

“It’s shameful and perplexing,”

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