2/19/20 By DAN ULLOA
Last night the Millburn Township Committee voted to withdraw a resolution that would have set up a process whereby companies could apply to be a medical marijuana Alternative Treatment Center (ATC) in town.
Thus, the prospect of a dispensary in Millburn was defeated. The dispensary would have been located at 704 Morris Turnpike in Millburn.
Many locals spoke out against having an ATC in town at the Committee meeting and packed the room. A lot of their arguments were typical prohibitionist propaganda and Not in My Backyard (NIMBY) arguments which are quite common in such situations.
“I’m not opposed to legalized marijuana but I don’t want it in my town,” said Millburn resident Debbie Fox.
One person claimed a medical marijuana (or clinical cannabis) dispensary would lead to more traffic in town and cause a rise in property taxes because it would require more cops.
“And that’s unacceptable,” the person said. Others said it would create more crime in town and traffic would be worse as a result. Other people cited studies from the NIH, UCLA, and the University of Pennsylvania that advocates would likely decry. A few claimed that people would be able to smell the smoke from the dispensary or patients outside and it would drift into the backyards of nearby families.
After every speaker, the crowd began clapping.
One interesting point that was made was that while a dispensary would pay a special two percent municipal tax, it would only last two years. Thus, he did not believe it would be cost-effective.
One individual said he lived by the proposed site and said, “Kids hop my fence for Chipotle. I can’t imagine when recreational marijuana becomes acceptable what will happen.”
A few people said they were in favor of medical marijuana in general but simply did not want in their town. One doctor said he was not opposed to legalization and cited the fact that his wife is a medical professional who has prescribed it to cancer patients and seen great results. But then he called it a “gateway drug”.
Someone claimed there is not enough research on cannabis. While there is a great deal of anecdotal evidence in favor of it, it is true there are not many definitive studies performed by scientists. Cannabis prohibition has made such research largely impossible in the United States
One man said he Googled dispensaries in the area and said he found two ATCs. So in theory, it would not be horrible for patients to drive to them. The problem is he mentioned nearby a CBD store, not dispensaries.
Someone even claimed it would invite drug cartels, even though the point of legalization is to take the crime out of cannabis. Others thought it would attract shady individuals to the area rather sickly patients desperate for relief. Someone else claimed it exacerbates mental health.
One woman said it sent a bad message to teach children in DARE about the issues with cannabis and then allow a medical dispensary.
“Think of the children!” was a common refrain.
(Most of the people who spoke left before the author could ask about the exact spelling of their unique names.)
Not one person from the crowd spoke in favor of it.
There had been great commotion over the prospect of an ATC in Millburn-centered Facebook groups and community forums.
“I personally don’t have anything against this. … I don’t think it’s something this town should have at this juncture,” said Mayor Jackie Benjamin Lieberberg regarding the resolution.
Committeewoman Dianne Thall-Eglow defended her introduction of the resolution to establish a procedure for prospective dispensaries.
“I have been contacted by many people offline in favor of it who don’t want to put their name on it,” she said. Thall-Eglow then suggested the town hold a referendum on the subject.
Thall-Eglow had introduced the resolution to set up a procedure to approve a dispensary in town because Green Thumb Industries (GTI) was interested in opening up a dispensary and leased a former liquor store on Morris Turnpike toward that end. She added that they had been trying to secure a meeting with the township committee for months.
She said Millburn has a reputation of being unfriendly to business. Thall-Eglow also defended medical marijuana being used to treat health issues.
When it became apparent the resolution would fail, Lieberberg consulted the town’s lawyer who suggested they make a motion to withdraw the resolution which they did.