Toms River is forming a cannabis committee to craft an ordinance after Bud Hub owner Daniel Kessel led efforts stopping them from banning cannabis licenses while Franklin Township in Somerset County will allow all six types.
They have until August 21st to pass a pro-cannabis ordinance.
Kessel said they stopped the Toms River law “with the power of the community. The people spoke up.”
He worked hard organizing support through Toms River Facebook groups, friends, and customers.
While the town is strongly Republican, “Cannabis is bipartisan,” he said. Kessel believes many average Republicans enjoy cannabis.
“Getting people to show up and speak was huge,” he added.
Ward 4 Councilman Terrance Turnbach, and Ward 3 Councilwoman Laurie Huryk, both Democrats, supported Kessel’s efforts, he said.
The Toms River Council voted to form a cannabis committee that would look into preparing an ordinance. Their committee would be comparable to the committee formed in Lambertville in the wake of community pushback.
Councilman Dan Rodrick (R) opposed the creation of the cannabis committee and refused to serve on it.
“I believe that the residents may have been in favor of legalizing marijuana statewide, but I think if people were asked if they had to vote for recreational sales in Toms River, they would not have supported that,” he said.
Toms River voted for cannabis legalization in the November referendum by 63 percent.
Councilwoman Laurie Huryk (D) pushed for the cannabis committee. She announced there would be 11 members of the cannabis license ordnance committee that include:
- Councilwoman Laurie Huryk
- Council President Kevin Geoghegan (R)
- Township Planner Dave Roberts
- A Toms River school drug abuse counselor
- An Ocean County Health Department official
- A local police officer
- Skip Simon from the community
- Pat Healy from the community
- Brice Morgan from the community
- Doreen Burns from the community
- Heather Scannell from the community
The committee’s members will represent those in favor of allowing cannabis businesses and those against the cannabis industry and the financial benefits it could provide the community.
Huryk said they want to hear from a financial advisor, consultants, local business owners, and advocates on both sides of the issue.
They do not have much time since they want to prepare something by mid-July.
Zoning rules can’t be changed for five years if nothing is done by the deadline.
Franklin Township Allows All Six Cannabis Licenses
Several other towns in New Jersey have made progress towards pro-cannabis laws.
Franklin Township in Somerset County will allow six classes of cannabis licenses to operate within their limits. It makes sense that they passed a comprehensive ordinance since they are an impact zone, one of the towns most adversely impacted by the War on Drugs with a high crime rate and unemployment.
Franklin Twp in Somerset is represented by Assemblyman Joe Danielson (D- Somerset /Middlesex), who was a leader in the passage of the Jake Honig Act of 2019 designed to improve New Jersey’s medical cannabis laws.
“If they come to town, they can be quite a significant ratable, whether or not we adopt a two percent tax on it,” Ward One Councilman Ted Chase (D) said.
Within their ordinance, they are indeed imposing the two percent tax local cannabis tax.
The ordinance passed the council with little controversy.