SPARTA, NJ – Sparta Township Council supported a first reading of an ordinance to ban marijuana in the municipality.  Councilman Jerry Murphy was the only member not to vote yes on Ordinance 18-15. If approved, Sparta would join a number of towns preempting the possible legalization of recreational marijuana as  proposed by the governor.  

Murphy did not respond to a question about his objections to the ordinance.

Mayor Josh Hertzberg and Deputy Mayor Christine Quinn said the council will continue to look at the language of the ordinance.  Their concern is whether or not the ordinance should designate a specific location for a medical marijuana dispensary, should the state eventually require Sparta to have one.

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Councilwoman Molly Whilesmith, Hertzberg and Quinn said they would have township counsel Thomas Ryan look at the language of the numerous New Jersey towns and counties to see how the handled that  issue. Some of the towns that have already banned marijuana include Mahwah, Hasbrouck Heights, Garfield, Carlstadt, Berkeley, Hazlet, Old Bridge, Wall and Cape May, Ocean and Monmouth Counties.

Hertzberg and Quinn both said they personally support the controlled use of medical marijuana. The ordinance prohibits both recreational and medical marijuana. 

Siting the “cultivation, manufacturing, testing and sale of marijuana” to be “detrimental to public safety and welfare of the township,” the ordinance specifically prohibits all aspects of the marijuana business from growing to shipping.

The proposed ordinance requires a second reading and vote to be adopted. Prior to a vote an ordinance is always open to comment from the public and the council members.

The next Sparta Township Council meeting is scheduled for October 9 at 7:30 p.m. at town hall.