CEDAR GROVE, NJ - With Governor Elect Phil Murphy pledging to sign legislation legalizing marijuana in the state within 100 days of his Jan. 16 inauguration, Cedar Grove Councilwoman Kerry Peterson urged Cedar Grove to prepare for the change and how it may impact the township.
Currently, New Jersey has legalized medical marijuana, which is distributed by six dispensaries, according to the New Jersey Department of Health. Murphy's plan would reportedly allow residents to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use, and previous convictions for possession would be eligible to be expunged. In addition the drug would be taxed at the point of sale.
Speaking at the council meeting Monday night, Peterson suggested the council task the township's Health Advisory Board and Municipal Alliance Committee to research the proposed legislation so Cedar Grove will be ready for what's coming. She noted that some municipalities in New Jersey are already taking a stance on the proposed legislation, including Point Pleasant Beach which banned the sale of marijuana both medicinally and recreationally. Peterson also pointed to Linden Township which has formed a committee to research the risk versus the benefit of the selling of marijuana.
"If we want to try to take the pulse of the community -- hopefully we can get more people to council meetings to discuss it," Peterson said. "It's really important. It's coming right down the pipe, and I want us to be prepared and ready."
Deputy Mayor Joe Cicala suggested that the township needed to first find out what it would lose if it banned the sale of marijuana, asking Township Manager Tom Tucci if he had any details.
"It's a bit cryptic. If you don't participate you won't participate in the revenue generated, but we don't know if that's revenue generated across the state that's' gong to be shared or revenue that 's generated just in your community that's going to come back to you," Tucci explained. "There's no detail in what they are putting out there right now. It's really an uncertain endeavor. There are a lot of ancillary details associated with legaliztion.because there are going to be ancillary costs associated with it because its going to bring other issues into the community. Nobody's talking about those other issues."
Peterson urged the council to read about what happened in other states after legalization.
"I've read a lot about it. It's very cryptic. We really don't' know what we are going to get. We are lucky enough to live in a town that is financially stable because of Mr. Tucci and the way it's run," Peterson added. "Extra money is great but at what cost."
"Personally I can put my stance out there right now. I absolutely do not want it and I’d be happy to pass an ordinance to ban the sale," Peterson said. "The first year it was legal in Colorado they had 59 deaths because of the edibles. They didn't regulate the amount of marijuana in the edibles and everybody digests at different rates. People are dying. There's nothing we can do about it, but I don't want it sold here if we can help it. "
Tucci suggested the council have the township clerk reach out to the League of Municipalities to see if they had information to share. "They may have done some legwork already which we can benefit from," he added.
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