Berkeley Township latest municipality to ban marijuana shops
A week after Point Pleasant Beach announced a ban on any marijuana dispensaries from setting up shop, Berkeley Township is following in the trend.
Berkeley is not the first town and may not be the last if the trend continues, especially here at the Jersey Shore with more municipalities opposing Governor Elect Phil Murphy's proposal to legalize recreational weed in the Garden State.
Mayor Carmen Amato says they introduced an ordinance Monday at their re-organization meeting to ban the sale of marijuana and paraphernalia across the entire township.
"The council and I feel strongly that we don't want this in our community," Amato said. "We also feel it's a gateway drug and here we are in the worst opioid epidemic in the country's history...I just think it's bad public policy."
Amato says they don't want marijuana readily accessible, especially for children.
"We don't want to be teaching kids how bad marijuana is in school and then as they're walking home from school, they're passing a marijuana dispensary," Amato said. "I think it sends the wrong message to our children and our residents."
Amato says he and the council did their homework before reaching a decision to draw up an ordinance on the ban.
"We don't want to bring the marijuana sales to our community and make it readily available," Amato said. "It's bad public policy."
He cites marijuana as a gateway drug that can cause even greater health problems for residents.
It's a health risk, he says, that certain towns in Colorado can relate to.
"If you look at what happened in Colorado, more than half of the municipalities in the state...which approved it on public referendum...oppose the sale within the borders of their municipality," Amato said.
He says the negatives associated with weed, like it being a gateway drug, outweighs any positive impacts such as potential revenue growth.
The ordinance goes to the Berkeley Township Planning Board on Thursday night then it'll be brought to the council meeting this month and can later be adopted.
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