WEST LONG BRANCH: The Feb. 7, council caucus meeting agenda included consideration of a possible ordinance for controlling the use of marijuana for recreation purpose in the town.
Council decided to turn the subject over to the governing body's Ordinance Review Committee for study. Council then moved to Executive Session.
In the open public session, the marijuana subject was raised by a resident who talked about alcohol use and the situation with opioids today. It is a different situation, the person allowed. Prescribed drugs (opioids) were among the issues and the "pot" smoking is widespread.
Another resident said the marijuana situation is like alcohol use and the impact on safe driving. All others spoke and the room had several people talking over each other with pro and cons to the council.
The governing body has obtained several copies of ordinances from other New Jersey towns including Hazlet, Garfield, Point Pleasant, Shrewsbury and also from Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders where decisions are under consideration or issued, as in Monmouth County and Point Pleasant.
West Long Branch has been looking at the Hazlet ordinance which is focused on distribution within the town, updating the zoning regulations to control operations such as sale by type of distribution, for example cultivation facilities testing facilities, manufacturing facilities and retail, with medical use permitted by the Medical Marijuana Act of the State (N.J.S.A. 24:61-1). As of this writing, Ocean County has passed similar limits.
Concerns expressed so far include the effect on drivers and if the amount of DUI cases will climb. There is difficulty in detecting and testing for "DUI" when erratic actions cause police to pull drivers over.
Usage has some people to say these observations do not lead to the greater usage or "gateways", an introduction to other drugs and behavior issues. Among these concerns with are traffic safety, and collecting and analyzing results that indicate unsafe riving performance.
Marketplace controls are still an area under review, and controlling sale to underage, and costs of treating abuse. A person at the Council meeting suggested the present laws focus on young people and are biased in application and jail penalties.
• Mayor Janet Tucci announced the appointment of Stephanie C. Murray as full-time Borough Administrator. The appointment was warmly received by the Council members.
• Emergency Management's Steve Cioffi requested special crossing lights be placed at several crossings for safety reasons, subject to County approval for some county roads
• The Mayor offered the Council's congratulations to the Betty McElmon Grade School's Principal Jim Earnhardt, the school teaching and administrative staffs and the students as the school was recognized as 50th for excellence from among the close to 600 school districts in the State,
• Emergency Management Memberships were accepted, subject final paperwork, for Lauren Antonucci (Active) and (Auxiliary's). Ethan Binning, Mia Collucci, Melissa Gallup and Michael Mazuco.
• Randy Triola was appointed to the Environmental Commission