BRICK – The governing body introduced an ordinance that would prohibit the retail sale, cultivation, manufacturing and testing of marijuana products for recreational use within the boundaries of Brick Township.
Last year, several local towns created bans on recreational sales, making sure to note that they did not feel the same way about medicinal use. Currently, state leaders are fine-tuning the details of how recreational marijuana legalization would work.
This ordinance would not impact the medical marijuana dispensary that was proposed on Adamston Road. That application is still before the Board of Adjustment.
The ordinance passed on its first reading during the Feb. 26 council meeting after a recommendation was made by the Township’s Land Use Committee, said Council President Andrea Zapcic.
Even though public comments on the proposed ordinance and a vote on its adoption would not take place until the next council meeting, some of the dozens of audience members spoke for or against the ban during the public comments portion of the meeting.
Moishe Zeines of Lakewood said he has attended a number of township council meetings within the county over the last month and said he appreciates council members explaining the resolutions before passing them “in one sweep,” as many other municipalities have done.
Zeines asked if the governing body would be sending a copy of the resolution to the Ocean County Board of Freeholders, who voted in February to oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana and urged county municipalities to do the same.
“You said it was recommended to you by your Land Use [Committee] but you didn’t say anything about the county, so I wanted to know if you would plan on sending that resolution, if adopted, to the county?” Zeines asked. “I know other towns did.”
“Typically, no, it’s not legally required to do that,” said Township Attorney Kevin Starkey. “If you choose to you can, but it’s just a courtesy if you do.”
Point Pleasant Beach Mayor (and Assembly candidate) Stephen Reid, who is the executive director of New Jersey Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy (RAMP), a lobbying group that is opposed to the legalization of recreational marijuana, commended the governing body “for putting your residents and your children first. I can tell you, you’re on the right path,” Reid said. “There are over 70 towns that are saying no. The more they learn about this recreational marijuana they know it’s not a good fit for their town.”
United Food and Commercial Workers Union #152 representative Hugh Giordano said the union has 1.3 million members in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico who work in supermarkets, manufacturing, warehousing, truck driving and in the adult medical use cannabis industry, which has thousands of workers, he said.
“I find this ordinance to be an attack on the working class, an attack on our labor union and an attack on good jobs,” he said.
Giordano said that an estimated 1 million new jobs with full benefits would be created across the U.S. as a result of the legalization of marijuana.
“These are jobs that create a new income and a new economy for Brick, for New Jersey, and for the whole country,” he said.
He said keeping the drug banned in Brick Township would only increase the black market.
“Could people drive to other places and get it? Of course you could, but the drug dealer is right here, right now, and they’re not just pushing cannabis, they’re pushing other drugs, heroin and pills, to our children,” Giordano said. “The only way to get these people off the street is to do it in a legal manner and to regulate it.”
Several veterans spoke out against banning the sale in Brick, including local resident Rich Campbell, who said it was only after years of treating his injuries with prescription pain medications and other drugs he tried marijuana and called it “the single greatest moment of my life.
“I used to speak negatively about marijuana and doubted its medical benefits. I would roll my eyes when it was thought of as a medicine,” he said.
“Every veteran and American deserves access and the right to that form of medication,” Campbell said. “The community deserves affordable access to this.”
Disabled Vietnam veteran and recovering alcoholic John Edmunds said that until he started using marijuana he tried to “drown my sorrows….they were going to put me in a facility, as they call them, because my PTSD had gotten that bad.”
He said he credits medical marijuana usage for being able to discontinue his therapy last month.
Edmunds said he is pro-medicinal marijuana, but doesn’t believe it should be lumped together with recreational marijuana because of regulations placed on the former.
“Recreational is completely different from medical. People get better on medical, and I’m here to say that,” he said. “If you vote this resolution into law, then I would expect you to [ban alcohol sales] next.”
While responding to a question about potential marijuana tax benefits for Brick during his Facebook live broadcast earlier in the day, Mayor John G. Ducey said he’s in favor of the ban since Brick has a family-type atmosphere, and many residents have told him that they don’t want marijuana sales in the township.
“If the tax rate was like 40 percent you’d have to consider it because it could do a lot of good, but we don’t know what the number would be,” Ducey said.
The final vote on the ordinance should take place at the next council meeting on March 12 at 7 p.m.