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PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- A fierce debate took place in Paterson on whether to allow marijuana businesses to operate in the city.

Emotions flared at Paterson City Hall as residents made their plea both for and against marijuana retail stores.

"We do know it's a gateway drug, we have lost many of our students, we've had many issues with our students with this situation," Paterson Board of Education member Corey Teague said.

Paterson lawmakers are considering a plan that would permit six retail marijuana businesses in the city.

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The state of New Jersey dismissed some 88,000 pot offenses under its new marijuana law.

The plan would also allow as many as 30 other cannabis-related businesses in Paterson. The city would be able to impose a 2% sales taxes.

"I think there are many pros, it's businesses coming to Paterson. I think all Paterson residents are going to benefit from it," said Drew Hoilett of Rise Marijuana Dispensary.

According to the New Jersey League of Municipalities, an estimated one-in-four municipalities have opted out of recreational licenses.

With an August 21 deadline to either prohibit or limit the number of marijuana establishments, some lawmakers would rather not be rushed into making a decision and want to take a wait and see approach.

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While many have stepped up, the number of unvaccinated hospital workers remains a concern.

"My concern is where is it going to be? Where is the map, where is the zoning -- the laws and regulations that we have to put in place to protect our children, all of that has to be a part of the discussion and has to be taken into consideration," Paterson City Councilmember Alex Mendez said.

The next vote is expected to take place August 4. If it passes, it'll be enacted 45 days later.

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Marijuana Plants Worth Estimated $3 Million Seized In Delta County

DELTA COUNTY, Colo. (CBS4) – Federal agents recently seized about 1,800 marijuana plants in Delta County following a months-long investigation. The Delta County Sheriff’s Office posted pictures of the plants, which are estimated to be worth $3 million.

(credit: Delta County Sheriff’s Office)

Investigators obtained search warrants for two locations: 4490 Sundown Road and 126 Meeker Street in Delta. An Asian Cartel cell is believed to be behind this operation and several other large, illegal marijuana grow sites across Western Colorado, according to the sheriff’s office.

Authorities arrested multiple suspects and found two illegal firearms at the Meeker Street address.

“I am happy we were able to identify this group and work together with our federal, state and local partners to rid Delta County of this illegal marijuana grow operation,” said Sheriff Mark Taylor.

(credit: Delta County Sheriff’s Office)

Sheriff Taylor says several groups associated with illegal cartel organizations have moved into Delta County over the past few years to illegally grow and sell marijuana.

“Unfortunately, these operations also bring in other crimes to the County such as credit card fraud, illegal narcotic distribution and more,” the sheriff’s office said in a Facebook post.

Authorities arrested Sang Bang, 36, and QjongqiongLin, 34, on federal arrest warrants. The two suspects are being held at the Mesa County Jail on federal charges, including charges from another prior illegal marijuana grow operation in Mesa County.

The search warrants were executed by the Delta County Sheriff’s Office, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation and the 7th Judicial District Drug Task Force.

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