Mayor Finds His Weed Views Not Shared By Many at Conference

Feb 06, 2019

Barnegat Township Mayor Alfonso Cirulli was all revved up to attend the recent state mayors association winter conference in Trenton. He was planning to use the occasion to voice his displeasure over the possibility of New Jersey legalizing marijuana.

However, he found that many officials didn’t seem to have the same passion. In fact, Cirulli recalled one speaker saying, “Well, Prohibition didn’t work.”

“I was really surprised,” said the mayor at the Feb. 5 township committee meeting. “I got to speak my piece for a few minutes and then they took the mike away from me.”

However, Cirulli said that would not deter him from taking a stand.

Currently, marijuana 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 last year, but the bill has yet to come up for a vote in the Assembly and Senate. It was approved last November by Senate and Assembly committees, but it has stalled since.

At Cirulli’s request, the committee passed a resolution opposing legalizing recreational use. He said copies of the resolution would be sent to local legislators and Trenton.

He recently circulated a petition which reads, “We the undersigned are against Gov. Murphy’s proposal to legalize recreational marijuana. Marijuana is a gateway drug which will have a devastating effect on our youth and society in general. The nation is battling an opioid addiction which is claiming 72,000 lives a year.”

“I’ve got 900 signatures,” said Cirulli, who noted that the petitions were circulated in local churches. “I’m also going to be sending them to lawmakers in Trenton.”

A former assistant principal at Pinelands Regional, Cirulli said his nearly 35 years in public education made him see “the devastating effects of opioid and marijuana use among teens.”

“Another problem is that the marijuana being sold today is 20 to 40 times stronger than what was around 40 or 50 years ago,” he said.

Cirulli said that during the conference numerous speakers discussed New Jersey being in “terrible financial shape” and that legalizing marijuana would help resolved fiscal woes through taxing growers, distributors and retailers.

“A far as I’m concerned, that’s blood money,” said Cirulli. “It will be a big cost to society.”  —E.E. 

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