SAYREVILLE – The borough has banned both recreational and medical marijuana businesses from operating in the borough, at least for now.
“This legislation is new,” Mayor Victoria Kilpatrick said. “I ask that you give us time so that we can get this right, specifically for marijuana patients. We want to do right by all of our residents and we’re working through this.”
The ordinance, which amends borough zoning to prohibit the operation of businesses related to the “adult use” or “recreational use” of cannabis within the borough, was approved by the borough council at the June 14 virtual meeting. The ordinance also prohibits alternative treatment centers, which dispense medical marijuana products as defined in the state’s Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.
Municipalities are not allowed to ban residents from using marijuana, according to state law, nor can they ban licensed cannabis delivery companies from making stops within their borders.
Under state law, if municipalities do not adopt a marijuana zoning ordinance by Aug. 22 , six months after legalization went into effect, marijuana businesses would be allowed to operate in the municipality for five years.
However, a municipality can reverse its decision at any time. If a municipality does not pass an ordinance, it would not be allowed to prohibit marijuana businesses for at least five years.
During public comments at the May 24 meeting, when the ordinance was introduced, Edward “Lefty” Grimes with Sativa Cross, an organization that advocates for cannabis patient’s rights, told the council he was concerned because the borough is looking to ban medical marijuana dispensaries.
“We need all the help we can get,” he said. “We’re hurting. You’re messing with the supply chain of medicine for people. My friend’s a disabled war vet. He just found out he has cancer. He has an hour drive to a dispensary. How are we not helping our vets? I’m just shocked.”
Attorney Michael Dupont said he, the mayor and council have much compassion for medical marijuana patients.
Dupont said he lost a wife to breast cancer and “understands the pain associated with this.”
The mayor said she also lost her mother-in-law to cancer and knows how medical marijuana was used the last days and weeks of her life.
“I think that what we’re trying to do is make sure that we have a plan of action to ensure that when the council wishes to have a medicinal or ATC (alternative treatment center) within our borough, we have it in the proper area,” Dupont said. “Unfortunately, the law does require us to take a position prior to August of 2021 or else it is limiting us for the next five years. In order to make sure we fulfill our obligations to the residents of Sayreville and make sure all locations are considered in the future, I think this is our best bet to allow us additional time.”
The borough can amend the ordinance in the future when the regulations are set, Dupont said.
“Many towns are doing this,” he said.
He asked Grimes to allow the borough time to review all of its options, including its planning options.
“I think you’d be surprised in the very near future,” Dupont said.
Susan Loyer covers Middlesex County and more for MyCentralJersey.com. To get unlimited access to her work, please subscribe or activate your digital account today.