St. Peter’s University Sues to Block Jersey City Cannabis Lounge

Medusa recently won approvals to become one of Jersey City’s first cannabis lounges. Image courtesy Medusa.

With the race to open Jersey City’s first cannabis businesses officially underway, a prominent university in McGinley Square is looking to void approvals for a dispensary and lounge near their campus.

On August 3, St. Peter’s University filed a LawsuitMedusa LLC is suing Hudson County Court to stop a plan from an enterprise called Medusa at 759A Bergen Avenue. Jersey Digs reported on the business in the spring after the planning board approved their application to open a dispensary with a basement consumption lounge.

Also named as a defendant is Jersey City’s planning board, who approved the Medusa plans during their April 5 meeting. Medusa was granted a conditional use variance to convert their space from a clothing store into a class five adult-use cannabis dispensary, but St. Peter’s says the approvals should be thrown out due to Medusa’s proximity to their campus.

Genova Burns, a Newark-based law firm, filed the lawsuit. It claims that approval for conditional use requires the main entry point of any cannabis to be opened. “be at least two hundred feet from any school identified on the City’s Official Drug Free School and Park Zone Map,”Section 151-1 Jersey City Municipal Code.

While the case notes that the city’s code does not define the term ‘school’ in clear terms, it claims that Jersey City’s Official Drug Free School and Park Zone Map identifies both Pre-K or K-12 schools along with and college and universities, with St. Peter’s campus being designated as “school number 101.”

The university claims in their lawsuit that despite their new Ignatius Hall dormitory at 762 Montgomery Street being approximately 65 feet from the proposed Medusa site, Jersey City’s planning department relied on a scheme called the “Cannabis Retailer Buffer Map” that doesn’t include colleges or universities as schools when considering Medusa’s application.

“The issue of whether the dormitory being within 200 feet of the property’s proposed storefront violates a condition of the proposed use was raised on several occasions by [St. Peter’s University counsel,” the complaint says.

But the case claims that “planning staff determined that the term school does not include a university and that therefore the immediate proximity of the dormitory to the [Medusa] property was not considered.”

While an inquiry Jersey Digs placed to the communications department at St. Peter’s University has gone unanswered, they have been vocally opposed to the dispensary.

The complaint notes that their counsel went great lengths before explaining to the planning board. “the substantial negative impacts Medusa’s cannabis establishment and consumption lounge would have…both to SPU’s underage student population and the community as a whole.”

Jersey Digs is waiting for comment from Haytham Elgawly, Medusa owner, regarding the lawsuit.

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