LACEY, NJ — Lacey is joining a growing number of towns in Ocean County that are banning the sale of marijuana.
The Lacey Township Committee introduced an ordinance prohibiting recreational marijuana sales within Lacey on Thursday.
The ordinance prohibits cannabis establishments and distributors from operating within Lacey Township. The prohibitions do not apply to medicinal marijuana dispensaries, which are permitted in Lacey Township’s business park.
The ordinance passed its first reading and will go through a second reading at the township committee’s next meeting on Thursday, May 13. The public will have an opportunity to comment at the meeting before a second vote is taken to pass the ordinance.
In previous weeks, a majority of residents and community members who spoke during public comment sessions advocated for the ordinance, citing health and safety concerns that recreational marijuana could present for the youth in Lacey Township.
The Lacey Township Police Department, the Lacey Municipal Alliance and the Lacey Township Board of Education are among the local organizations supporting the proposed ban on marijuana businesses.
During the meeting Thursday, representative Hugh Giordano of the United Food & Commercial Workers Union said cannabis businesses could give the community more jobs that offer competitive wages and health benefits.
“We don’t demonize our alcohol delivery drivers. We don’t demonize our pharmacists. We should not demonize these jobs. They are good people. They’re educated people, they’re union members and they live in this community,” he said.
Dan Jensen, of Forked River, shared his insight from working in security for marijuana dispensaries across New Jersey and as an associate director for the National Cannabis Advisory Group. Jensen also runs a company called Code 3 Outreach that educates first responders and veterans about how cannabis products can remedy post-traumatic stress disorder.
“I’m very happy that you’re openly receptive to medicinal cannabis,” Jensen told the township committee. “I think that’s very important, but I do believe there is a route that can be taken responsibly and professionally to have a recreational dispensary here in Lacey Township.”
Jensen suggested that recreational marijuana could be accessible to adults who are not comfortable obtaining a medical marijuana card.
“There are some people that are not comfortable getting their card for whatever reason and that’s where the opportunity for adult use comes into play,” he said. “When it comes to adult use, there’s a large population that does not want to deal with doctors at this point. They don’t want to have to fill out government forms for whatever reason.”
Mayor Peter Curatolo assured Jensen that medicinal marijuana will remain accessible to those who need it in Lacey Township, but under the proposed ordinance residents will need to drive elsewhere to buy recreational marijuana.
“There will be a couple of towns here that will have it and they won’t have to drive far to get it,” Curatolo said.
The next committee meeting will be held May 13 at the Lacey Township Municipal Building at 6:30 p.m.
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