SOMERSET, NJ - The state’s push to meet a growing demand for medical marijuana has thrust the town into an issue Mayor Phil Kramer was in no hurry to tackle: whether Franklin should allow alternative treatment centers in certain zones. TAP here for resolution.
“I’d have preferred to wait until the state passed a final law, but unfortunately that luxury has not been afforded us,” the mayor said in a Facebook post.
The state health department is already laying the groundwork for expanding the number of alternative treatment centers, and developers need to know where they might be welcome. With a bill on the horizon to expand the disorders marijuana could treat, the state is looking to add to the six medical dispensaries now open.
“This has led developers to request a statement from us,” Kramer said of why there is no back burner for this often-controversial issue.
Related article: Discussing N.J.'s business of the future - legal marijuana
A resolution supporting the location of alternative treatment centers in Franklin—but only in zones designed for some type of manufacturing or industry—is on the agenda for Tuesday’s Township Council meeting at 7 pm in the municipal building.
And Mayor Kramer has gone to Facebook encouraging residents to come and speak their minds about the measure. He acknowledged that his post may draw some reaction from citizens and added that “comments at the council meeting may have a greater impact.”
He wants residents to know that there are really four questions facing the township relating to: growing it, processing it, medical sales and recreational sales.
Franklin is not alone in considering legislation relating to marijuana with the often-calming and pain-relieving drug gaining legitimacy for both medical and recreational use (Bills to allow recreational use are now in the State Legislature).
Related article: Danielsen Sponsors New Medical Marijuana Bill
Many communities in North Jersey—from Cedar Grove to Hasbrouck Heights and Hawthorne—have already broached the marijuana debate in some way. As far back as June of 2104, Westfield acted to restrict marijuana dispensaries to certain commercial zones.
And recently Raritan Township was informally approached by a developer interested in opening a dispensary in the old Luggage Factory.
Setting the stage for what could be a debate in Franklin, Mayor Kramer used his Facebook message to explain that Franklin’s proposed resolution shows intent, “but is not law.”
Other area towns like Bridgewater have stopped short of enacting the ordinance required to establish law, and sentiment there remained divided as of July.
New Jersey allows towns the right to limit the ability to pot marijuana dispensing sites in their community, and some have interpreted that as the right to prohibit.
Hawthorne, for instance, argued that zoning for such facilities conflicted with the borough’s master plan—a move challenged by those seeking treatment afforded them under the NJ Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act of 2010.
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