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Cranbury officials eye expansion of smoking ban in light of marijuana legalization

Cranbury should consider expanding its ban on smoking in public, now forbidden in parks, to include other public property now that state officials increasingly look likely to legalize recreational marijuana, a township official said on Oct. 22.

Committeeman Daniel P. Mulligan III raised the issue during a Township Committee meeting and said afterward he hopes officials take up the matter before the end of the year.

“My concern is (with) recreational marijuana, if the state laws don’t go far enough, we want to ensure we don’t have people smoking marijuana near the school on Main Street for instance,” Mulligan said. “We have to think of these things ahead of time.”

In 2017, the committee voted to ban smoking in parks, partly because of a fear that marijuana would be legalized and because officials did not want people to smoke marijuana in the parks, Committeeman Jay Taylor said.

Mulligan raised the issue of whether the restriction should be expanded to other land the town owns, possibly even to streets.

“So you go with a smoking ban, which covers you for anything you smoke,” he said in an interview after the meeting.

He said he intended to ask Mayor Glenn Johnson to put the issue on the agenda for an upcoming committee meeting this year.

Cranbury is already home to a medical marijuana dispensary, but the state is looking to join other states in legalizing recreational marijuana, a step Gov. Phil Murphy favors.
As a pre-emptive step, committee members voted this year to ban the sale of recreational marijuana anywhere in Cranbury.

“I keep saying we’re going to have to look at that again to see what the state does, because I assume there will be gaps that will not be very good for Cranbury,” Mulligan said.

During the meeting, Taylor pointed to study findings by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The organization along with the Highway Loss Data Institute found an uptick by “as much as 6 percent” in crashes in four states that recently had legalized recreational marijuana, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado and Washington.

“The problem is that marijuana can’t be tested immediately in the blood,” Taylor said. “If you smoke marijuana, it can show up a couple days later, a week later. There’s no current test now to screen for somebody who is driving under the influence.”

Taylor shared how his parents, traveling in Seattle recently to attend a wedding, were being driven by an Uber driver who was “clearly stoned.”

“They got into the car not realizing it,” said Taylor, who added the driver feel asleep while at the wheel.

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