BARNEGAT, NJ – The first public question on New Jersey’s ballot asks voters to decide whether the state should legalize recreational marijuana use and possession. Barnegat township officials have their own stance on the issue. Township Committee members passed a resolution this week in opposition to a constitutional amendment legalizing recreational cannabis use and sales.

The proposed resolution appeared on the October meeting’s monthly consent agenda. Matters that appear in this portion of the agenda are considered routine. The committee does not generally engage in formal discussion on individual items. Exceptions are sometimes made as far as commentary without removing matters from the consent agenda.

Committeeman Al Cirulli called the issue “near and dear” to him as a retired educator. He expressed concerns that legalizing recreational marijuana would make it more accessible to children.

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“It’s going to have a devastating effect on kids because kids will get this and use it,” said Cirulli. “It will do damage to their brains, which are not fully matured until they are 26 years old.”

Cirulli referred to marijuana as the gateway drug and said the state only wanted to legalize use and sales in hopes of making a financial windfall.

“That’s not going to happen,” Cirulli continued. “The only ones who are going to benefit are the local drug dealers who will undercut the state’s prices.”

The Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders passed a resolution in opposition to the proposed amendment last month. The resolution urges voters to vote no on the ballot question.

One of Governor Phil Murphy’s campaign promises focused on putting an end to what is often referred to as cannabis prohibition. Democrat leaders in the senate attempted to pass legislation that would legalize marijuana for recreational use.

The New Jersey State Senate and Assembly passed a joint referendum bill last year leaving it to voters to decide if cannabis should be for made available for personal, non-medical use by adults who are over age 21.

Eleven states and the District of Columbus currently have laws that allow for the use of recreational marijuana. New Jersey approved the use of medical cannabis in 2010 for a limited list of qualifying conditions. The list has been expanded since the initial passing of the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.