TOMS RIVER – The local council stuck to its original plan to ban cannabis deals in the city until it has more information on the pros and cons.
Voters passed the state referendum and wanted legalized recreational marijuana. The state legislators then put together what they thought this should look like. This law contained that each city had to decide for itself whether companies were allowed within its borders.
After two meetings where members of the public asked the council to allow cannabis businesses, the council decided to form a committee to obtain more information on the matter. The cannabis company ban ordinance was ready to be voted on during the May 11th session, but has been tabled for two sessions, meaning it will be on the agenda for the June 8th session.
If the local council is considering an ordinance, they open the microphone to the public so they can turn it off first. During the last meeting, some spoke out in favor of the ban and a few others against it. There was applause and loud comments during the public hearing that supported or criticized anyone who spoke.
Resident Laurie Singer described driving someone to Cranbury to get their medical marijuana. It’s an hour there, an hour waiting, and an hour back. Having free time for sale near home would alleviate this problem.
Additionally, the community has dozens of liquor licenses, and that’s never in question. This is a new industry and the state is strictly regulating it. The municipalities must approve any cannabis company that wishes to operate in the city. You will not open the floodgates and lose control. It won’t cause the problems critics foresee.
“I have problems with a governing body that doesn’t give me access to a safe, tested, and fully legal product,” she said.
Hugh Giordano, of Blackwood, New Jersey, appeared in his role with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which would represent cannabis workers.
“This (prohibition) is a direct attack on working people,” he said. These careers offer good wages and benefits and will grow the middle class. He also said that if legal marijuana wasn’t available here, people would have illegal alternatives.
“You shouldn’t have to drive to get medical marijuana when you can buy fentanyl here,” he said.
Kenneth Gaughran, Toms River, said everyone is afraid marijuana is a gateway drug, even though there is no evidence to support it. There is evidence that some retailers will sell their customers to tougher, more expensive drugs.
Bad dealers are the gate, not the drug itself, he said. If you allow it to be sold on-site, some dealers will go out of business. So, he said, a legal sale would actually prevent people from switching to harder drugs.
Another Toms River resident Brice Morgan said the percentage of people in the city who voted to legalize marijuana had a greater margin than some of the councilors in their last election. However, they did not discuss their victories. The council is going against the will of the people in an election year.
He pointed to the council members: “Your seat is not secure. Your seat is not secure. Your seat is not secure. “
Berkeley’s Daniel Kessel also said more people voted for recreational marijuana than for some council members.
He was referring to a private conversation with Council Chairman Kevin Geoghegan in which Geoghegan told him how many people are calling him asking for the ban.
“We don’t have to call you. We told you how we felt about our vote, ”said Kessel.
Kyle Dennerlein, Toms River, said he advised banks and saw the money pouring into the industry and urged Toms River to be a part of it.
“Marijuana is here. You have to figure out how to capitalize on it, ”he said. Other cities have already said no, so there is an opening.
He added that this new industry is one of the most regulated industries he has ever seen.
Sam Foster of Brick works for Door Dash. He wasn’t sure what would happen if he was stopped for a traffic obstruction in Toms River when driving around town delivering cannabis products. The legal answer was a bit unclear.
John Loiacono, of Toms River, said he never used cannabis but that he drives veterans to get their medical marijuana. He said there is a world full of differences on the way there versus the way home for people.
Some members of the public supported the ban. Elizabeth Puglisi, a nurse, denied some of the arguments against the ban. There are more important things than profit.
“There are other forms of pain management besides narcotics and marijuana,” she said.
If it can be sold in the city, it will “absolutely increase drug trafficking in our community,” she said.
No ban – for now
Of course, the local council did not decide against a ban. They just decided to postpone their voting until a later date.
Councilor Terrence Turnbach suggested that a committee of residents and experts be formed to better educate the council before they vote.
“I’ve read the law and I think a lot of municipalities are rushing to opt out because they’re afraid of losing control,” he said.
“It’s not my opinion” about legalization. “I’m here on behalf of the people and I understand that,” he said.
Laurie Huryk, a nurse, said she had an oncology patient early in her career who didn’t lose weight like other patients. She looked healthier and admitted that her husband had gone into town to buy marijuana for her.
What people don’t understand is that getting medical marijuana is so difficult that they often look to other methods to deal with their symptoms.
The facility she saw in New Brunswick was well run, graduate students studying horticulture as they grew, and security so good that a neighboring company needed access to their cameras when they were robbed.
Cities are in control of land use – they can choose where marijuana can be grown, sold and delivered, she said. By opening the door to regulated recreational traders, there will be fewer illegal traders.
Alderman Joshua Kopp said there are some things about legalization that he is against, but “there are issues I need to understand better”. Therefore, he also voted for the regulation to be submitted for two sessions.
Councilor Matthew Lotano said that as a small business owner, he knows how restrictive government policies can be. The state wants its hand in everyone’s pocket.
While 64 percent of Toms River voters wanted recreational marijuana to be legalized, they didn’t know exactly what it would look like when it actually happened. There have been many problems with the way the law was written and the legislature is already trying to fix the problems it caused.
“This (regulation) is about not letting Trenton make the decision,” he said, noting that August 22nd is the earliest time adult use sales can begin. But that comes quickly. The ordinance was filed for a month. The planning board must review the decision. Those months will go by quickly.
Councilor Maria Maruca said the state rushed to draft her law and said, “I don’t think the state got it right the first time. I don’t want to be as hasty as Trenton. “
She also voted to file the regulation because she wanted to make an informed decision.
Council Chairman Geoghegan said the majority of voters asked for legalization but did not know where the stores would be. This leads to a NIMBY situation.
“Everyone wants it, but not in my back yard,” he said.
Alderman Daniel Rodrick was the only council member to vote not to file it, referring to the incidents of marijuana use in schools skyrocketing after legalization in Colorado.