Cannabis Lounge/ outdoor picture

A cannabis lounge is slated to open on the same block as the new Saint Peter's dormitory.

On April 21, 2022, New Jersey officially legalized recreational marijuana and dispensaries are quickly opening their doors, but Jersey City dispensary Medusa: Stoned at First Sight might have a hard time opening its own.

This past month, in the Hudson County Superior Court, Saint Peter’s University sued Medusa NJ and the Jersey City Planning Board in an effort to stop Medusa, the recreational cannabis dispensary and lounge from opening about 65 feet from the school.

Because of its close proximity and the absence of a Community Impact Plan that reflected the university, SPU argued that the Planning Board’s approval of the dispensary was “arbitrary and capricious” and are asking the court to void the approval. 

Arbitrary and capricious behavior is “willful and unreasoning action without consideration or regard for the facts and circumstances,” according to the case Boothe v. Roofing Supply, Inc. of Monroe.

President Eugene Cornacchia did not provide comment for this article but stated that “Saint Peter’s and its students have been a significant part of this community and should have been considered by the Planning Board when it made its decision,” in his Op-Ed in The Jersey Journal.

Cornacchia spoke to the Jersey City Cannabis Control Board on June 13, 2022, arguing that the proposed dispensary would create crowd control and security issues for students in residence halls. 

The university previously opposed approval of the proposed cannabis dispensary back in April 2022.

SPU student and Hudson County Community College employee Atrell Johnson has observed a different outlook at HCCC.

“[Hudson County Community College is] starting a new cannabis program this Fall, so now students can pursue a career in cannabis,” said Johnson. “Not many colleges are taking steps like that. While HCCC is moving forward it seems like SPU is moving backwards.”

During and after the COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses had to shut their doors. Johnson did not see the point in causing problems for a growing business.

“I also don’t see the pride in ruining a small business. If they are not trying to attract underage students, and are maintaining a professional business then in my mind there shouldn’t be a problem,” Johnson shared.

The Control Board tabled the Medusa application twice before approving it on July 25, 2022. Medusa’s attorney stated that it offered proposals to meet SPU and Hudson Catholic objections but that SPU rejected these proposals.

According to the lawsuit, the Planning Board approval violates a Jersey City ordinance prohibiting a dispensary’s main entrance from being less than 200 feet from a school under the “Drug Free School and Park Zone MP.” 

SPU has argued that Medusa’s entrance would be approximately 65 feet from its new Residence Hall and that the Planning Board used a “Cannabis Retail Buffer Map'' that doesn’t include colleges and universities.

The university’s administration, lawyers and the owner of Medusa NJ were not available to comment.

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