On Wednesday evening, Wall Township officials passed a municipal zoning, anti-cannabis ordinance “banning businesses from selling marijuana and/or paraphernalia facilitating the use of marijuana and farming or manufacturing of marijuana in the township.”
The council was not without criticism and advocacy from members of the community and also surrounding towns and counties.
About a dozen individuals shared their stories with the council of opioid recovery, cancer survival, the benefits of job growth and revenue in the community and the ability to use the cannabis industry and expected boom to help recover areas of the town that are in need of redevelopment, repair and growth.
Anti-Cannabis Ordinance Debated
Some residents simply questioned why the council was rushing to ban something that there is no legislation about and acting in what appeared to be a premature manner. They asked why the township feels they do not need the revenue or the revitalization in areas of town.
There are numerous liquor stores and pharmacies in town, as a few advocates mentioned to the council, refuting the council’s statement that there is ‘nowhere in town for this type of establishment.’
After hearing from the advocates and community members, the council voted unanimously to pass the anti-cannabis ordinance, but not without a few comments.
Councilman Dominick DiRocco stated they had indeed heard from people in the community who stated they were doing the right thing. He also shared that he has heard concerns about prostitution and homelessness being on the rise since cannabis became legal in Colorado. Mayor Thomas Farrell stated he “had seen the good and the bad [of marijuana], with more bad than good.”
However, not one person in attendance spoke in support of the ordinance being passed.
It is expected that a legal, adult-use cannabis industry will bring considerable revenue to New Jersey. Although some towns are in the news lately for passing ordinances against cannabis, there are towns such as Trenton, Jersey City, Asbury Park, and Atlantic City, not to mention the six towns that already host dispensaries in New Jersey, that support cannabis in the community.
Many towns are also open to the idea and are willing to wait and see what the legislation looks like before they decide how to proceed in their towns, such as Gloucester Township, where at a recent Cannabis Symposium Mayor David Mayer urged advocates to get involved and have their voices be heard on the cannabis issue.
Governor Murphy, as recently as this past weekend, implied he was moving forward with plans to create a legal, adult-use market in New Jersey. Some state and local officials, industry leaders, and local influencers recently attended a trip to Las Vegas to observe their newly legalized cannabis industry to see what lessons could be learned.
Additionally, state Senator Ronald Rice recently introduced a decriminalization bill in New Jersey that has been the subject of much debate and scrutiny in recent days.
Cannabis is on many people’s minds and will continue to move to the forefront as the debate continues to gain traction and advocates continue to speak out.