PERTH AMBOY – Will recreational marijuana be sold, produced, distributed or manufactured in the city?
Time will tell, but a group of residents and their supporters are hoping the city opts out of allowing recreational cannabis businesses in the city.
On Saturday former City Councilman Fernando Irizarry, whose term ended in December, was among a group of people who marched to the City Hall Circle in support of banning the sale, production, distribution and manufacturing of marijuana in the city.
Irizarry said he doesn’t want to see recreational marijuana businesses in neighborhoods, near schools or churches in the densely populated 5.9-square-mile community.
“We don’t have the commercial corridors that other communities have,” said Irizarry, adding there is no way in Perth Amboy to separate a commercial recreational marijuana business from a residential neighborhood, schools and churches.
Irizarry also is concerned cannabis businesses would cast a negative image on the waterfront community and make it the epicenter for the sale, distribution and manufacture of marijuana in the county, and possibly the state.
The city plans to hold a special informational recreational marijuana summit 7 p.m. June 2 at Perth Amboy High School for residents to listen to panelists and voice their concerns.
Abel Paulino, known as A.D. Pauro, who also was involved with the march, said he’s not against marijuana but he doesn’t want to see the dispensaries in the city. He said he voted for the legalization of marijuana from a social justice standpoint because it’s been used as a tool for persecution in minority communities.
He said since several other Middlesex County towns don’t want recreational marijuana dispensaries in their town, he doesn’t want Perth Amboy to be the guinea pig. He questions if there would be a financial benefit to the city.
Junior Iglesias said he’s particularly concerned about the impact recreational marijuana businesses will have on the health of the city’s youth, particularly related to the THC psychoactive chemical that causes the high sensation.
“We have a choice, if municipalities choose to opt out they do not need to wait five years to opt in if they want it in the future, that’s an alternative that we have,” said Iglesias, adding that if the city opts in or doesn’t enact an ordinance the city can’t make a change for five years. “This is something that could transform our community, reduce home values and bring many negative effects. It would be the best thing for our community if we opt out.”
“That’s what we’re marching about for the City Council to enact an ordinance that they opt out of dispensaries, distribution and sales of cannabis for the Perth Amboy community,” he said.
Irizarry said since he first heard about recreational marijuana being legalized, he’s been trying to educate citizens and organize a forum of panelists with opposing positions. While on the council he unsuccessfully tried to get an ordinance passed prohibiting the sale, distribution and manufacturing of recreational marijuana in the city. He said other council members wanted to wait and see what regulations were imposed by the governor and state legislators.
When Gov. Phil Murphy legalized recreational marijuana earlier this year, Irizarry again began advocating for a ban in the city.
Irizarry said the City Council still has time to come up with an ordinance, introduce it and vote on it twice in a time frame of about 100 days.
“We will see what happens,” he said.
Suzanne Russell is a breaking news reporter for MyCentralJersey.com covering crime, courts and other mayhem. To get unlimited access, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.