CEDAR GROVE, NJ - The Town Council is continuing its stance against the legalization of marijuana and taking the next step, by drafting an ordinance prohibiting the sale of marijuana in Cedar Grove.
Councilwoman Kerry Peterson, who has spearheaded the movement to ban the sale in Cedar Grove, told her fellow council members that the time is right to take a stand.
“I think at this point we should be proactive and I would ask the council if we could just go ahead and pass an ordinance to ban the sale of marijuana here in Cedar Grove,” Peterson said.
Earlier in the year, Peterson brought up the topic to the council, suggesting it task the township's Health Advisory Board and Municipal Alliance Committee to research the proposed legislation so Cedar Grove would be ready for what’s coming. The Council took it a step further last month drafting a letter to the New Jersey Assembly Committee on Oversight, Reform and Federal Regulation stating its opposition to the legalization of marijuana and its intent to potentially ban the sale of it in Cedar Grove. Peterson said that the ordinance is the logical next step and Mayor Peter Tanella agreed.
“The Council agreed to send the letter just to put our state legislature on notice to our opposition to the legalization of marijuana and the sale of marijuana in the township of Cedar Grove,” stated Tanella. “I think what you are proposing here tonight is the next step in that process and I support it 100 percent.”
Councilmen Harry Kumburis and Robbie Vargo agreed, echoing Tanella’s sentiments. Dep. Mayor Joe Cicala opposed the idea of an ordinance, stating it was premature for the township to take action when legalization had not yet happened. He further stated that according to what he’s read, the law will take a year to go into effect so there is plenty of time for the council to address the issue if necessary.
“I was in favor of sending the letter and letting our elected officials know that we are, as a governing body, opposed to the legalization of marijuana. However, an ordinance now to prohibit the sale of marijuana in Cedar Grove is for many reasons premature in my opinion and I think it’s a little short sighted of the council to do that at this juncture,” Cicala stated. “I will not support it although I am 100 percent against the legalization of marijuana in any form.”
“Deputy mayor I really do appreciate your perspective,” Peterson said. “There’s just so many things that I’ve read and it’s statistically unsafe. The biggest pushback that I’ve heard is what’s the difference between this and a liquor store -- we have two liquor stores in town, we have bars in town -- well the difference is marijuana is federally illegal. It’s an all cash business. I think it puts our public’s safety at risk and that’s first and foremost my concern.“
Cicala stressed that until the council knows the ramifications of banning the sale of the drug and going against the state’s position, it shouldn’t take any action. He said that when and if marijuana is legalized, then an ordinance could be written with input from law enforcement and a public hearing to find out how residents felt. Tanella noted his respect for Cicala’s opinion, but said he wanted Cedar Grove to be proactive and take a leadership role on the issue. However, he agreed that the Cedar Grove Police Department should have input into the ordinance and how it is written. He disagreed on a public hearing, noting that the public has an opportunity to speak on the issue when the ordinance is written and considered by the council.
“Maybe our one vote here in Cedar Grove could start something or join together with other communities and he’ll (Gov. Phil Murphy) think twice about going ahead with his campaign promise to legalize it,” Tanella said. “I feel strongly about doing it now so we can lead by example.”
Kumburis agreed, noting that several municipalities in the area are also taking a stand and most seem to oppose the legalization. He referred to any financial benefit as “blood money” saying the council needed to protect the young adults of Cedar Grove and an ordinance was a good first step.
“I agree with you -- we have to lead by example -- and I think we’re sending the message right now that the character and safety of our community is not for sale and I think that that is important,” Vargo noted.
TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is an online newspaper serving the Townships of Verona and Cedar Grove. TAPinto Verona/Cedar Grove is accredited by the New Jersey Press Association, and is a locally owned news organization serving the community.
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