By WILLIAM CLARK
Zen Leaf of Neptune has been approved as the township’s first recreational marijuana retailer.
The Township Committee approved the resolution at its meeting this week making way for the medical marijuana shop to approach the New Jersey Cannabis Board Commission for final approval.
“What we are doing is monumental to the growth of a new industry that brings jobs, tax revenue, and most importantly social equity to our community,” Mayor NIcholas Williams said.
In Feburary the committee adopted several ordinances paving the way for recreational sales in Neptune including three licenses for retail locations. Zen Leaf will be the first of three. Williams clarified that the township is still in the process of interviewing and approving the final two.
Zen Leaf, owned through Verano NJ, LLC. is located on Route 66 near the Asbury circle and has been operating as a medical marijuana dispensary for the past year.
“Verano through their Zen Leaf location are no strangers to Neptune Township and they have proven themselves to be good neighbors,” Williams said. “It is important to once again note that this approval is just one of the many vetting processes Verano has gone through both at the local level and the state level.”
With the popularity of recreational marijuana, one concern is the influx of cars and patrons in the area. However, Williams does not believe this will be a major issue.
“They have a big parking lot and it’s right on Route 66,” Williams said.
The proximity to several major highways should also help traffic flow and the ease of getting to the store, Williams said.
Williams also made clear that Zen Leaf takes security seriously, employing its own guards and locking up cannabis products in safes at closing time in addition to surveillance.
“There’s an astronomical number of cameras for that building,” he said. “The whole place is under surveillance.”
Zen Leaf has three locations in the state. The Lawrence and Elizabeth locations also sell recreational cannabis.