While neighboring Asbury Park has said it would embrace marijuana dispensaries if the state chooses to legalize weed, Neptune is taking a wait-and-see approach.
Neptune Mayor Nicholas Williams said he wants to know more from the state before deciding whether he would support allowing dispensaries in the township.
“I think medical marijuana is a wonderful thing,” Williams said. But he said township committee members haven’t yet formally discussed how they feel about dispensaries for recreational uses. “We haven’t really been told that much about it, the municipalities are trying to gather information on what’s going on with it,” he added.
Some localities across the Jersey Shore have taken firmer stances about the prospect of marijuana dispensaries.
Middletown, Berkeley, Point Pleasant Beach, Seaside Heights, Lavallette, Oceanport and West Long Branch have moved preemptively to ban weed sales in their towns while Trenton debates a legalization bill.
Asbury Park has taken a different approach, as you can see in the video above.
The City Council has said it would welcome marijuana dispensaries and Asbury Park Mayor John Moor has had more than a dozen meetings with prospective owners for informational purposes. But Moor has said he would also like more guidance from the state before deciding how the city would address zoning issues for dispensaries. Any zoning decisions for Asbury Park would be made after the state passes a law legalizing the drug.
Fifty-nine percent of residents now support allowing adults to possess small amounts of marijuana for personal use in New Jersey, while 37 percent are opposed, an April poll from Monmouth University found. That’s an 11-point swing from Monmouth poll results in 2014, when support stood at 48 percent and opposition at 47 percent.
Sixty percent of New Jersey residents believe legalizing marijuana would help the state’s economy, while only 16 percent say it would hurt the economy, according to the poll. Another 20 percent say it would have no impact.
One of those who believe marijuana sales would help Neptune is Dianna Harris, president of the Midtown Urban Renaissance Corp., which advocates for expanded commercial activity in the section of the township.
“It would be a shame for Neptune not to take advantage of the dispensaries,” Harris said.
“I like the idea of dispensaries because it’s going to bring traffic. If we have dispensaries, people come and utilize other stores in the area.”
One place where it seems unlikely a dispensary would land would be the Ocean Grove section of the township.
Ocean Grove does not permit the sale of alcohol within its neighborhood.
“It’s a complicated issue,” Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association President Michael Badger said. “We would seek to respect the history in Ocean Grove.”