Monroe council faces pressure to take stance against legal marijuana use

BY Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2 | MonroeNow | Oct 8, 2018 

MONROE — While several townships neighboring Monroe have passed various versions of anti-marijuana laws, Monroe has yet to make a decision.

Residents questioned the lack of township plans this month, indicating that they believe it is time for the municipal government to take action banning recreational marijuana use.

“This is very important. We request that the Monroe Township pass an ordinance preemptively banning recreational use of marijuana,” said Parkash Parab. “This is not good for our residents.”

 Jamesburg approves ban on medicinal, recreational marijuana businesses

Said Pat Valavno: “Towns around us … have ordinances against marijuana businesses. … So do these towns around us know something Monroe doesn’t know? Where do you think these businesses are going to come? I want to know where you stand.”

Council President Stephen Dalina responded to the lack of policy criticisms saying that the governing body “have discussed” taking a position and that people “have spoken in favor and against. [We] are still gathering data. We will do what’s best for Monroe.”

 No place for recreational marijuana sales in Cranbury

Jamesburg is the most recent local municipality that has opted to ban any legally defined distribution of marijuana.

“It’s a safety concern even for people on medical marijuana. There is a concern for citizens who may drive under the influence,” Scott Frueh, Jamesburg borough administrator, said last month after municipality adopted a ban. “And there is no test for marijuana,” as compared to what is in place for testing of potentially drunk drivers.

Cranbury also adopted a ban on recreational-use businesses, but supports medicinal purposes. It is one of the few New Jersey municipalities where a business has received a license to operate a medicinal marijuana dispensary. Though, more could be on the way, according to state officials.

Earlier last month, the state said that 146 applications were received to open medicinal dispensaries. Though of those applications, the state plan is to allow six new operations. Of the 146 applications, 45 were from areas located within Central Jersey.

“By expanding Alternative Treatment Center locations in New Jersey, we are putting patients first and ensuring more convenient access to medical marijuana,” said Governor Phil Murphy in a statement in September.

But while laws, with restrictions on locations, have support by lawmakers, recreational regulations remains an unresolved issue. While there are several bills addressing recreational use, the state Legislature has yet to act.

Monroe, like many towns, is waiting to see what the state does before introducing any local legislation.

“We are still in the information gathering stages to determine what direction to go,” Delina said.