Pot Thickens: Hobokenites Organize For Hearing On Cannabis Dispensary

HOBOKEN, NJ — A group of Hoboken residents has organized to protest a proposed cannabis dispensary that’s slated to come to the corner of 14th and Hudson streets in Hoboken. Story Dispensary would move into a storefront owned by the wife of Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop and her partners.

The proposed dispensary is up for a hearing at the Hoboken Planning Board meeting on Thursday (hearing documents are here).

Meanwhile, news emerged this week that Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla is planning to be part of a $5,000-a-plate fundraiser for a political action committee later this month co-hosted by one of the owners of the storefront. Bhalla will be one of three special guests at the fundraiser, along with Mayor Fulop.

Dispensary on 14th Street: For And Against

For the last few months, some residents of the densely populated northwest corner of Hoboken, near the waterfront, have argued that a dispensary on 14th Street will increase traffic and cause other problems. A petition against the dispensary has garnered more than 1,300 signatures.

Supporters of the plan have countered that the complaints are much ado about nothing, considering the city has more than 130 liquor licenses in use, with few recent noise and traffic complaints.

Fifth Ward Councilman Phil Cohen, whose ward is contiguous with the ward containing the dispensary, met with some of the residents last month and said he believes the complaints are due to an unfair marijuana stigma.

Pot Thickens: Hobokenites Organize For Hearing On Cannabis Dispensary

But now the issue may spill into the courtroom.

In a lawsuit filed last month (linked here via Hudson County View), the 14th Street building’s condo association said that they were led to believe that Jacyln Fulop — wife of Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop — and her partners, who purchased the storefront last year, intended to install a physical therapy practice there.

Instead, Jaclyn Fulop’s physical therapy practice opened across the street, and the storefront is set to host Story Dispensary.

In a newsletter on Monday, 2nd ward Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher, in whose ward the dispensary would sit, wrote, “It is definitely true is that the landscape of all of Hoboken, not just the 2nd Ward, is going to change forever because of this.”

A mailer was sent out this week by opponents of Story Dispensary.

Fisher also drew attention to the political relationship between Hoboken’s mayor and a partner in the storefront, Drew Nussbaum. Fisher included a copy of an invitation to a June 23 fundraiser for a Political Action Committee linked to Fulop. Nussbaum, who’s one of the 14th Street storefront owners along with Jaclyn Fulop, is listed on the invitation among committee hosts. Mayors Bhalla, Fulop, and Jim Davis of Bayonne are the three “special guests” for the PAC fundraiser.

Fisher was the first official to make city residents aware, back in February, about the first three non-medical dispensaries applying to open in Hoboken. Since that time, the city has added new rules about dispensaries, such as limiting them to six in the city.

Several council members also have said they weren’t clear about zoning revisions they approved a year ago, when they permitted conditions that allowed the 14th Street dispensary to potentially open.

“Cannabis dispensaries were not the kind of business we intended in C-3 and our laws should never have been expanded to include these residential areas,” said Councilman Ruben Ramos in April.

Four members of the nine-member City Council, the faction not allied with Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla, have publicly asked Story Dispensary to withdraw their application. READ MORE: Pot Or Not?

“I know that my recent newsletters and advocacy makes it seem like I am opposed to cannabis, but I am not,” Fisher wrote in her newsletter Monday. “But something happened and instead of a measured first step, the flood gates flew open when no one was looking.”

Read prior Patch coverage here: Limiting Cannabis Dispensaries In Hoboken? New Rules Up For Vote

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