Ocean Township residents narrowly approved allowing the sale of medical marijuana in the township in a special referendum on the ballot in Tuesday’s general election. They also said they would prefer nonlethal methods be used to help control the township’s out-of-control deer population, narrowly defeating a policy to use both nonlethal and lethal methods.
Voters cast ballots on a nonbinding referendum that asked: “Should the Township of Ocean allow medical marijuana dispensaries to operate within the township limits?”
The referendum was approved by 3,024 votes, or 51.98 percent of ballots cast, to 2,794 votes, or 48.02 percent- a difference of only 230 votes.
“I think people are beginning to think about marijuana as a medicine and accepting that marijuana can be a medical drug. Medical marijuana can help people with various illnesses and why should they suffer we they don’t need to,” Mayor Christopher Siciliano said.
The sale of both recreational and medical marijuana is now banned in Ocean Township under an ordinance recently adopted by the Township Council. The referendum allows for dispensaries only, not the sale of recreational marijuana.
Another referendum on the ballot asked voters if the township should adopt a deer management policy. Voters said yes by 4,543 votes to 1,204 votes. Voters cast a total of 5,747 votes in support of this policy, with the yes votes accounting for 79.05 percent of votes cast and no votes representing 20.95 percent of votes cast.
Another separate referendum presented three questions to voters:
A: Should the policy include lethal methods only? Voters cast 967 votes on this question, or 20.95 percent of votes cast.
B: Should the policy include non-lethal methods only? Voters cast 2,421 votes to support this policy, which is 43.94 percent of votes cast.
C: Should the policy include lethal and nonlethal methods of deer control? Voters cast 2,122 votes to support this option, or 38.51 percent of votes cast.
Only 309 votes separated policy B from policy C. The referendums are nonbinding and the eventual decision on how to cull the deer population will be made by the Township Council.
“If we are going to manage our deer population, it looks like voters prefer a nonlethal policy. I don’t think residents have enough confidence in using only a lethal method,” Mayor Christopher Siciliano said.
He said the township will continue to gather more information on the issue before taking any action.
“I don’t want people to think this issue is cut and done. We will have more forums on the matter. But, this referendum gives us a good read on how people are feeling about this in Ocean Township and how to manage this very important issue,” he said.
Too many deer are an ongoing problem in Ocean Township and surrounding communities.