Public hearing set on Freehold Township plan to ban cultivation, sale of marijuana

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FREEHOLD TOWNSHIP – The Township Committee in Freehold Township is taking action to ban the production and sale of marijuana in the municipality by introducing an ordinance which would, if adopted, prohibit the cultivation, harvesting and sale of marijuana.

The ordinance would prohibit retail or wholesale establishments, businesses, persons or entities from selling or offering to sell marijuana or marijuana products for medical or so-called recreational use, or paraphernalia that facilitates the use of marijuana, and further prohibits the growing, cultivation or harvesting of any type of marijuana plant in Freehold Township.

Committee members introduced the ordinance Sept. 11. A public hearing is scheduled for Oct. 9. Residents may comment on the ordinance at that time. The committee may adopt the ordinance following the public hearing.

If adopted, the law will prohibit the production and sale of marijuana by amending the township’s land use ordinance to include marijuana in the prohibited uses section.

According to the proposed ordinance, retail or wholesale establishments, businesses, individuals or entities selling or offering for sale marijuana or marijuana products, whether for medical and/or recreational use, and paraphernalia that facilities any use of marijuana will become specifically prohibited uses if the ordinance is adopted.

The growing, cultivation or harvesting of any type of marijuana plant will also become specifically prohibited uses if the ordinance is adopted.

In New Jersey, the possession and distribution of marijuana for recreational purposes is illegal. The distribution of marijuana and the possession of more than 50 grams of marijuana are considered indictable crimes; possession of more than 50 grams is seen as having the intent of distribution. Possession of less than 50 grams of marijuana is a disorderly persons offense, according to state statutes.

Gov. Phil Murphy has said he will take action to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Legislators in the Assembly and the Senate have been debating the issue in recent months.

The ordinance in Freehold Township does not discuss the possession or general distribution of marijuana; it makes the production and sale of marijuana illegal within the municipality.

“The legislation presently pending for the legalization of marijuana has an opt-out provision for municipalities,” Mayor Anthony Ammiano said. “There has yet to be a definitive law adopted. Since there is still controversy, even among the supporters of legalization, Freehold Township is opting out until it has determined the laws and regulations create a regulatory environment that safeguards Freehold Township’s history of being a family town.”