NJ: Vote Delayed On Jersey City Marijuana Plan

Photo Credit: Paul J. Richards

Mayor Steve Fulop’s plan to bar recreational marijuana sales citywide before coming up with pot-friendly zones lives for another day, with the City Council last night moving to postpone a vote on the controversial proposal.

The council voted 8-1 to set aside the measure, which was scheduled for a final vote last night. Councilman-at-large Daniel Rivera, who supports Fulop’s plan, was the only no vote.

The action came after the council heard impassioned pleas from residents who questioned the mayor’s proposed ban, which would also apply to growing and distributing recreational marijuana. Fulop has said if state lawmakers legalize weed, the city should have a say in where the industry can be located.

Venus Smith, 39, of Jersey City, said the ban would scare off cannabis investors.

“We don’t want to push them all to Newark,” Smith said.

Fulop’s plan has attracted the interest of the ACLU of New Jersey. Its director, Amol Sinha, said in a statement that the proposal “defies logic.”

“The current illegality of marijuana makes the ban unnecessary,” Sinha said. “If the city wants to take advantage of economic opportunity for its residents when marijuana is legalized, taxed and regulated in our state, the ban would need to be reversed.”

As Gov. Phil Murphy tries to convince lawmakers to approve his plans to legalize recreational weed, Jersey City appears to be the only city that claims to be in favor but is making moves to ban it first. Jersey Shore locations like Point Pleasant Beach and Shrewsbury are anti-legalization and have banned recreational pot sales, while Asbury Park officials have expressed support of marijuana dispensaries in their city.

Brian Platt, who was appointed last night to replace Bob Kakoleski as the city’s business administrator, reiterated the administration’s position on recreational marijuana. The city does not intend for there to be a blanket prohibition, but wants an initial ban to “make sure that we’re protecting ourselves and not letting this move forward without doing our homework.”

It’s not clear when the proposal will come back before the council for a final vote.