Barnegat Takes Stand Against Pot Legalization

Jul 04, 2018

Should marijuana be legalized in New Jersey, growers and sellers would not be able to do business in Barnegat Township. An ordinance adopted at the July 2 township committee meeting will forbid the “sale, manufacture and farming and marijuana paraphernalia” in the municipality.

Deputy Mayor Alfonso Cirulli acknowledged the ordinance could eventually be declared moot.

“Eventually, the state may not allow us to do this,” he said. “Whatever we do will be superseded by anything that the state does.”

Currently, marijuana use is criminalized for recreational use in New Jersey, but permitted for medical use. Gov. Phil Murphy had vowed to legalize recreational marijuana within the first 100 days of his administration, but the bill has yet to come up for a vote in the Assembly and Senate.

“If anything, this ordinance is our way of taking a stand against legalizing marijuana, especially in the light of the opioid crisis throughout our county, the state and the country,” said Cirulli.

Township Attorney Sean Kean said the eventual law could be accompanied with an “opt out” clause for communities, through which the ordinance would be able to stand. Earlier this year, Point Pleasant Beach and Berkeley and Toms River townships adopted similar ordinances.

“We have to wait for the final wording of the bill,” said Kean. “Originally, the governor was hoping to have signed it into law by the end of June, but now we’re probably looking at it to come to his desk in the fall.”

Another ordinance adopted will donate a small strip of property to the Ocean County Natural Lands Trust Fund for open space preservation. Township Engineer John Hess said the wooded parcel covers approximately three acres, and is located near the Four Seasons at Mirage community.

“It never was going to be developed for Mirage,” said Hess. “It’s just sitting there doing nothing, so we’d like to have the area preserved so no one will ever build on it.” E.E.

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