The Toms River Township in New Jersey has just permanently banned recreational marijuana within its premises through a council vote, said Ashbury Park Press. The ordinance won in a 4-1 vote with two abstains.
This measure will make recreational marijuana businesses illegal in the township including the distribution, recreational sales, and delivery of marijuana products in the township. A few members have expressed favor in revising the ordinance to allow medical cannabis dispensaries.
Of the five members who voted, only councilwoman Laurie Huryk was against the ban, while council president Kevin Geoghegan, vice president Maria Maruca, Matt Lotano, and Daniel Rodrick were all in favor of the measure. Members Terrance Turnbach and Josh Kopp chose to abstain.
Huryk, who is a member of the Toms River cannabis committee, said that the committee recommended making cultivation and manufacture of adult-use marijuana legal in the township. However, the council disregarded the suggestion.
The committee also made recommendations against allowing bulk distribution, sales, and delivery, but supports medical businesses.
The process of reviewing the measure took 10 weeks with the involvement of residents, council members, planner David Roberts, and police department and regional school representatives.
This is not the first time that the council has voted against marijuana businesses. Not long ago, it banned cannabis retailers, manufacturers, and distributors until December 31. This period is intended to give members time to review the cannabis committee’s findings and recommendations.
‘The will of township residents’
Resident Laurie Singer took the vote negatively, saying that the council is “ignoring the will of township residents,” as per Ashbury Park Press. She is referring to the 2020 referendum, which showed that 63.7% of Toms River voters gave a positive response to making recreational marijuana legal.
Singer added, “The time to move forward with this policy is now. Stop with the procrastination, implement the cannabis committee’s recommendations today, here and now.”
Another resident and member of the cannabis committee Brice Morgan was also disappointed by the vote. He emphasized, “You’re not listening to the committee. What was the point of the committee?”
Meanwhile, council president Geoghehan said he is all for giving medical marijuana businesses a place in Toms River. He added, “Several of us have had discussions. I do believe there would be support for medical dispensaries.”
Huryk noted that New Jersey has made medical cannabis legal in the state, but Toms Rover ordinances have prevented businesses from entering the township. This issue can be addressed only by changing zoning laws to allow medical marijuana businesses.
The council has postponed banning medical marijuana twice after receiving backlash from residents, expressing the sentiment that the council is working in contrast to the township’s residents’ wishes.
The councilwoman will no longer be part of the council next year. Turnbach and Maruca will also be leaving the council after losing the reelection and being defeated in the GOP primaries, respectively.
The council will be welcoming three new members. All of them are Republicans and have not expressed their support or opposition regarding medical marijuana sales.