SOUTH TOMS RIVER – As towns throughout Ocean County close their borders to recreational cannabis, South Toms River will allow it to be sold.
The governor and legislature gave municipalities a 180-day deadline to decide whether they would permit growth and sales of marijuana in their respective communities and if so, how it would be implemented. Many municipalities are choosing to opt out of that. However they can later opt in if they choose.
South Toms River is one town in Ocean County that “will not be restricting the use of cannabis within the municipality,” said Borough Clerk and Business Administrator Joseph Kostecki.
Even before the statewide referendum, the borough took a poll of residents using a program called PlanetCivic. A number of questions were asked, such as what projects the town should do. Marijuana legalization was one of the questions. It was a nonbinding poll, meaning that the governing body were just taking the pulse of residents.
There was “overwhelming public support” during the review of the pending legalization, Kostecki said.
Furthermore, the borough has provided support to two applications during the 2019 New Jersey Medical Marijuana Program application round, he said.
The town’s neighbors might have other ideas. Berkeley officials have been against legalization from the start. Toms River officials had voiced opposition but are now softening to the idea.
Many towns throughout Ocean County passed ordinances banning marijuana sales before the drug was legal. The issue is that state law generally supersedes local ones. So, those ordinances were really just stating a position – they had no real power. Now that the new state legislation requires towns to opt out or else be automatically opted in, towns have to make a more concrete choice.
Seaside Heights, Seaside Park, Brick and Lacey are among the Ocean County towns that have either passed or considered ordinances to ban or limit cannabis sales in their communities. The earliest that adult recreational sales can start is August 22.