Union City previously banned cannabis on March 13, but then this week, on April 24, passed an amended ordinance allowing medical cannabis dispensaries to operate in the city. A city official stated, “The previous ordinance did not allow any marijuana facilities. The new ordinance allows for medical marijuana dispensaries to operate in the city.
Currently, there are five medical cannabis dispensaries in New Jersey, with a sixth about to open later this month. Reports from patients show that NJ dispensaries struggle to maintain an adequate supply at affordable prices for medical cannabis patients. With the recent expansion of the medical program in NJ, it is now more urgent than ever for towns to consider the expansion of dispensaries into their zoning laws.
“The previous ordinance had a discrepancy. We had a visit from an individual who pointed out that discrepancy. We have addressed it and would also like to thank that individual very much,” said Mayor Brian Stack. Mayor Stack also serves in the state legislature.
Ed “Lefty” Grimes, a cannabis crusader and leader in the NJ legalization movement, spearheaded the effort. For years, he has visited and spoken to town councils and police to help break myths and falsehoods surrounding cannabis. He and others visited Union City, as well as many others, to try and change their perception on cannabis. Grimes thanked Mayor Stack, “You are one of the only people who have done anything on this, and I thank you very much.”
While gains are made in the push for changing perceptions and, at minimum, allowing medical cannabis dispensaries, other towns continue to pass outright bans on marijuana.
This week Old Bridge also banned marijuana dispensaries from operating in the city. Although the resolution passed, Councilman Tony Paskitti voted no because “I don’t think we have enough information on this subject matter.”
Last month in Monmouth County, Hazlet also quietly passed an ordinance against the sale of any marijuana in the small town. Hazlet is a town that is burdened by vacating businesses and skyrocketing property taxes, so it is a shame they will not utilize the revenue to improve the town.
However, on Tuesday, April 3, the Parsippany-Troy Hills council discussed and voted on a resolution supporting Governor Murphy’s recent medical cannabis expansion.
Over 20 activists and supporters of cannabis legalization in New Jersey attended the Parsippany-Troy Hills Township Council Meeting. About 15 people spoke in support of medical cannabis being zoned and allowed in Parsippany.
Grimes urged the council to learn more. He argued, “The sick and the dying deserve that you do the research” on how medical cannabis saves lives. Grimes was recently featured in national media for his advocacy work for patients’ rights and access to medical cannabis. He visits countless police and township officials throughout NJ aiming to educate and promote access for medical cannabis patients’ rights.
Timothy Finnerty of Basking Ridge discussed the life-changing benefits he has yielded through medical cannabis. “For starters, I lost 175 pounds that were caused by childhood-induced PTSD.”
Jeffrey Oakes, of Oceanport, shared, “Two years ago, I was diagnosed with cancer. I was given two months to live. However, thanks to medical cannabis, combined with 27 rounds of chemo, I am still here!
Hugh Giordano of Blackwood, a union representative at United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW), urged the council to do their research. “We represent the dispensary in Woodbridge. We have invited other town councils to arrange tours. I urge you to do the same.” Additionally, Giordano shared additional facts about jobs, industry, and economic growth.
About a dozen other advocates spoke on behalf of medical cannabis and its expansion throughout the state. A major theme was that patients need additional access. With the program expanding, it is expected that the already strained supply will be even more difficult for patients to access.
According to the Parsippany Focus, “The Township Council further supports the location of ATCs in appropriate locations to serve the residents of Parsippany-Troy Hills and the surrounding area and to allow qualifying patients greater access to medical marijuana. We will review its zoning ordinances to consider appropriate locations for ATCs within the Township that will not conflict with protected uses. These include but are not limited to schools, churches, parks, etc., as well as any other applicable ordinances in order to regulate ATCs. This will be done in a manner that will promote and protect public health, safety and welfare.
“I voted in support of the medical marijuana resolution. It has been medically documented that it assists in pain relief for people suffering from a number of things, including cancer and other serious ailments. I am totally against the recreational use of marijuana,” said Council President Paul Carifi, Jr.
Recently, two major studies were released showing a direct correlation to states with medical cannabis programs and significant reductions in opioid prescriptions.
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