Monmouth County Freeholders just said no to pot.
The county governing board approved a resolution saying they are against any attempt by New Jersey to legalize recreational marijuana.
Freeholder Director Tom Arnone announced the opposition Thursday afternoon, saying he could not support legal weed while also starting and promoting programs aimed at teaching the county’s children about healthy eating and lifestyles.
“We are telling our kids to eat healthily, do the right thing, but, hey, you are going to be able to get high,” he said.
The opposition comes in contrast to New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Monmouth County resident, has said he supports legalization. Murphy is a Democrat while all members of the Monmouth County Freeholder board are Republicans.
Arnone and other freeholders suggested that the campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey is rooted in an effort to create an additional revenue stream to balance the state’s budget.
“Both parties have literally failed in the financial obligations to the taxpayers of this state,” Freeholder John Curley said. “They have to get a lot of things in line.”
Curley, the freeholder liaison to the Monmouth County Division of Mental Health and Addiction Services, said that board is also opposed to legalizing marijuana.
The freeholders’ public opposition came the same day as the New Jersey Cannabis Symposium in Newark, which drew a crowd of more than 800 people hoping to cash in on a potential new industry. Check out the scenes from that symposium in the video at the top of the page.
Arnone said he had the advertising for that symposium on his mind when he announced his opposition.
He sees the new tax revenue as the only upside to legal weed. But he said that is not enough to offset the potential harm to children as well as the lack of credible ways for police to detect when a driver is under the influence of marijuana.
While the resolution the freeholders passed does not restrict towns from allowing marijuana businesses to open locally, Arnone and other freeholders say they hope towns will follow Monmouth County’s lead.
“It’s absurd and it’s heartbreaking. It’s astonishing to me we have to balance our budgets on the backs of residents, especially our children, on legalizing marijuana,” Freeholder Pat Impreveduto said. “We will not let this happen in Monmouth County.”