Red Bank council: We will accept marijuana treatment center in town

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Public officials in Red Bank are offering their support for the potential establishment of a local alternative treatment center that would sell medical marijuana.

At present, there are six such businesses – known as alternative treatment centers – operating in New Jersey; two in northern New Jersey, two in central New Jersey and two in southern New Jersey. State officials have said they plan to open six additional alternative treatment centers.

Applications to open an alternative treatment center must be reviewed and approved by state officials before further action may be taken at the municipal level. In the current round, individuals and entities have until Aug. 31 to file an application to operate a new alternative treatment center.

“We agree with (the alternative treatment centers) and we support it. Everyone on the council is for this,” Red Bank Borough Councilman Erik Yngstrom said.

The alternative treatment centers sell medical marijuana to individuals who have an illness that has been diagnosed by medical professionals.

A resolution passed by the Red Bank Borough Council on Aug. 15 states that the borough “supports the expansion of New Jersey’s medical marijuana program to fulfill the needs of those patients who use marijuana to alleviate suffering from certain medical conditions and is in favor of an alternative treatment center operating in Red Bank.”

In an interview before the meeting, Yngstrom said the governing body wants to use the voice of the council to show support for a holistic alternative to other medications that are on the market. 

“We have been thinking about this for awhile,” Yngstrom said. “With all the towns that are coming out against the governor’s plan for the expansion of medical marijuana, we want to show them we are for this.

“This resolution is the first step. Now we need to work with RiverCenter, the zoning board and the planning board … (State officials) first need something from the town that shows support for the expansion” of the medical marijuana program, Yngstrom said.

Council members Mark Taylor, Michael Ballard, Edward Zipprich, Michael Whelan, Kathleen Horgan and Yngstrom voted to pass the resolution which makes the borough’s position clear to state officials.

Mayor Pasquale Menna does not vote on council business, but said he is in support of alternative treatment centers. 

In an interview, resident Jeff King said he has been visiting municipalities in Monmouth County to voice his support for the sale of medical marijuana from alternative treatment centers.

He said he believes medical marijuana is a “gateway out of opioid addiction” and said the opening of an alternative treatment center in Red Bank could provide relief from what he said is a state-wide drug epidemic.

King said the operation of an alternative treatment center in Monmouth County could help individuals who have been diagnosed with illnesses combat their ailments without the use of opioid narcotics, which can often be addictive in nature.

“My friends are sick,” he said. “They are in pain and they are suffering. I want people who are in that condition to be able to get local relief … The cannabis community is all about trying to get away from opiates. This is not a gateway in. It’s a gateway out.”