In its first year of allowing recreational cannabis sales, the borough of Eatontown has experienced a significant boost in tax revenue. According to the borough’s chief financial officer, sales tax revenue from cannabis amounted to a precise figure of $225,534.38. This amount surpasses the combined revenue generated from municipal court fines and liquor licenses in the previous year, as indicated by budget documents.
Encouraged by this financial success, the borough’s elected officials are now exploring avenues to further increase tax revenue. Their plan involves expanding the number of licenses permitted for cannabis retail, cultivation, manufacturing, distribution, and wholesale activities within the town. Currently, Eatontown only allows three licenses for cannabis retailers and two each for cultivators, manufacturers, distributors, and wholesalers.
Mayor Anthony Talerico Jr. expressed confidence in the borough’s ability to attract applicants for these licenses. However, Ron Wallner, Chair of the borough’s Economic Advisory Committee, hinted at potential challenges for businesses operating in a highly competitive market.
When it comes to public safety concerns, Eatontown Police Chief William Lucia reassured the Asbury Park Press that he has no more reservations about additional cannabis retailers than he does about any other type of retail establishment.
The borough collects a 2% sales tax from retail, cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution sales, along with a 1% tax from wholesale licenses. However, at present, only one retail business, AYR Wellness NJ (formerly known as Garden State Dispensary), is in operation. It is worth noting that the borough does not impose any tax on medical marijuana sales.
To accommodate the expansion of the cannabis industry, Eatontown is considering amending its land use rules to allow for up to four licenses each for the aforementioned cannabis businesses. The Borough Council had prepared the new rules for introduction on Wednesday but decided to postpone the introduction until June 28 due to debates surrounding changes in parking requirements, with proposed adjustments from four spots to seven per 1,000 square feet of retail space.
Parking has been a challenge at AYR Wellness, the borough’s sole retail and medical marijuana dispensary, as it has attracted a large number of customers.
The proposed changes to the rules would also expand the areas where cannabis distribution, cultivation, manufacturing, and wholesale businesses are permitted. The new zones would include Industrial Way East to Wall Street, Meridian Road, Corbett Way, Christopher Way, and James Way.
Eatontown’s experience highlights the significant financial benefits that can arise from legalizing recreational cannabis. As the borough strives to fine-tune its regulations and expand the industry, it remains on track to further capitalize on the thriving market.