DENVILLE, NJ – The Denville Town Council approved two resolutions that manifest the township’s opposition both to the cultivation of marijuana on property located in neighboring Boonton Township and the legalization of cannabis for personal recreational use in the state of New Jersey, at its April 16 meeting.

Approved unanimously, one resolution provides that “[t]he Township Council opposes New Jersey legalization of cannabis (marijuana) for recreational use, including the collateral authorization for cultivation, testing, manufacturing, transportation and the retail and wholesale distribution of marijuana products within the State of New Jersey.”

The other resolution, approved by a 4-1 majority, states that “[t]he Township Council opposes the cultivation, processing or potential future dispensing of marijuana at 130 Old Denville Road and the application of NETA NJ LLC in its entirety.” NETA NJ LLC purchased the property located at 130 Old Denville Road in Boonton. Denville Mayor Thomas Andes believed NETA had not yet filed an application for authorization to operate an alternative treatment center and cultivate cannabis on the property. Boonton Township had provided NETA a letter of support to do so, however.

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Councilman John Murphy was the only council member to vote against the resolution relating to the anticipated alternative treatment center in Boonton. He stated that Denville Township lacked the authority to compel Boonton Township to act or refrain from acting. Consequently, the Boonton administrators likely would file the resolution in the waste can upon receipt. Moreover, “we would bristle at another town telling us what to do,” he said.

Councilwoman Nancy Witte shared a contrary view, stating there was nothing wrong with the council letting Boonton Township know that Denville opposed its support of NETA’s proposed used of the property in question.

Mayor Andes reassured the council that Denville regularly received nonbinding resolutions and letters from other municipalities. He further stated that the resolution was merely an expression of Denville’s opinion, and that Boonton Township will do with the resolution whatever it may. Ultimately, the administrators of Denville and other surrounding towns will have to work closely and collaboratively with the Planning Board of Boonton Township to garner desirable results, he shared. He told the council he was committed to doing the latter.

While grateful for the council’s willingness to entertain the resolutions, members of Citizens Against Marijuana Industry Near Schools (CAMINS) continued to express the same concerns they shared during prior meetings. Several members had visited a medical marijuana facility in White Haven, Pennsylvania, and had spoken to nearby residents while there. Recurring complaints included a dreadful, perpetual stench that emanated from the facility (“smells like a skunk”); decline in property values; inability to sell property in some cases; and increased nuisance complaints. Several CAMINS members encouraged Boonton to do its own due diligence and visit the White Haven facility to gain a better understanding of what awaits it. Boonton resident Bill McKee Jr. wished Boonton had done exactly what the CAMINS members had advised. McKee thanked the Denville Town Council for leading the way and being so proactive.

While many people did not have clear objections to the use of medical marijuana, the common objection was to the cultivation of it in a residential area like the one surrounding the property purchased by NETA. Others, on the other hand, did not see the location of the facility in Boonton as problematic. As a matter of fact, many in attendance not only voiced their support of the facility but also shared their support of the legalization of recreational marijuana use. Denville resident Andrea Zeydelis stated that marijuana was already in the Denville community, and therefore, the town needed to get ahead of it. “We don’t want to be left behind,” she declared. Others pointed to loss of a significant revenue stream if Denville sat on the sidelines.

Edward “Lefty” Grimes of East Hanover urged the council to stop playing political football with the lives of sick and dying people, especially disabled veterans. Grimes is the leader of the “Ignorance is No Excuse Tour,” a movement whereby Grimes, a cannabis patient, posts videos online of himself and others educating law enforcement officers of the guidelines for smoking medical marijuana in New Jersey. Fellow cannabis patient Christian Velasquez joined Grimes at the meeting and implored the council to disapprove the resolutions because Morris County provided limited options for cannabis patients, who had to travel long distances to purchase medical marijuana. Velasquez proffered home cultivation as the win-win solution.

As for next steps after approval of the resolutions, Mayor Andes vowed his top priority would be to convince Boonton to reject NETA’s application. If that effort failed, alternatively he would work to build layers of protection to ameliorate the concerns raised by CAMINS.

 

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