By PETE WALTON
The Bradley Beach Borough Council will hold a special public meeting next week to gather community input on changing laws regarding marijuana.
N.J. Gov. Phil Murphy is a long time supporter of legalized recreational marijuana. Murphy wanted state lawmakers to give him a bill to sign by the end of 2018 but negotiations between the Massachusetts native and his fellow Democrats who control the legislature have stalled.
That hasn’t stopped the state’s municipalities from expressing their opinions, said Mayor Gary Engelstad.
“Other towns have jumped in and said we don’t want it or we welcome it,” the mayor told residents at this week’s council meeting. “At some point, very soon I think, we’ll take a stand, but I want to have a listening session for you to tell us what your thoughts are. This is a very contentious item and I don’t want to jump into something without the residents having the opportunity to weigh in.”
In June of last year, John Moor, mayor of nearby Asbury Park, said he would welcome legalized marijuana to the city.
“It’s going to anger some people but then, we come to history and reality,” Moor said. “Sometimes you have to be the first.”
Earlier this month, the Ocean Township Council banned the sale of both recreational and medical marijuana. Councilman John Napolitani voted against the ban. Mayor Christopher Siciliano abstained because he personally supports the sale of medical marijuana.
Engelstad, the Bradley Beach mayor, noted that he is the son of an FBI agent, and that he is committed to maintaining the borough’s reputation as a family resort community.
“I have my opinions, which I won’t share at this time, but I really want and I hope that folks will come out and let us know how you feel about this,” Engelstad said.
The special meeting will take place in the Bradley Beach municipal building on Tues., Jan. 29 at 6:30 p.m.