By DON STINE
The sale of both recreational and medical marijuana is now banned in Ocean Township under an ordinance adopted by the Township Council last week.
“Recreational (and medical) marijuana related facilities where marijuana is grown, produced or sold shall not be permitted as a use or conditional use in any zone notwithstanding any state laws to the contrary,” the ordinance states.
“We took this move until we sort this thing out. It is better to be safe than sorry and we want to see how this rocks out elsewhere before we move forward on legalizing any of it,” Mayor Christopher Siciliano said.
“We don’t want to jump the gun on this and the ordinance can always be amended in the future at the will of the residents,” he said.
The mayor said he personally supports the sale of medical marijuana.
“I am more open to the sale of medical marijuana than recreational but that remains to be seen. If we are going to do it, I would like to see just medical marijuana made available in certain zones,” he said.
He also said that the sale of marijuana in the township may eventually be left up to voters to approve in a referendum.
“But we want more input from the public first,” he said.
Councilman John Napolitani cast a vote against the ban, with Siciliano abstaining because he would still support medical marijuana.
“I am for medical marijuana dispensaries and expansion of legislation regulating it is needed. But I need to do a little more research on recreational use because it is a tough subject and I want to look into it further and get a little more educated on it,” he said.
“It is shortsighted for a municipality not to consider this issue. Personally, I think the majority of politicians have not done enough research on both medical and recreational marijuana. But I think it is smart for us to sit back and see how the law comes about and what ramifications are, either good or bad, for a municipality,” Napolitani said.
While there were about six people at the meeting who did not support adopting the ordinance. Siciliano said he also received a number of telephone calls from residents opposing the sale of marijuana, citing it as a “gateway drug” and saying there is no use for its sale in the township.
“But I would say about half do support the sale of medical marijuana,” he said.