Councilor at Large Peter Yacobellis cited the overwhelming support for legalization of cannabis in New Jersey and specifically in Montclair.
“We have to remember this is no longer an illegal substance and it’s no longer a controlled substance,” said Yacobellis, during discussion of the ordinances. “We should be celebrating that we are no longer going to be incarcerating people for possession on six ounces or less of marijuana.”
Yacobellis was also concerned about the possible stigmatizing.
“We’re talking about adults pursuing a legal transaction at a legal place of business, in a very heavily regulated and controlled environment,” he added, explaining how rigorous the state licensing process is.
Fourth Ward Councilor David Cummings had a problem with the whole process and how the ordinance was moved.
“There wasn’t really a lot of conversations amongst the entire council,” said Cummings. “I’m a father of three kids. I do no want any marijuana stores near a school, or a church for that matter. No one can tell me marijuana cannot be perceived as a gateway drug.”
Cummings said the township already has problems with underage drinking. He also questioned the locations being proposed and how they seemed to be only in lower income areas of the Township.
Third Ward Councilor Lori Price Abrams said the Township was starting small and only talking about two retail licenses to start.
The proposed locations are along Bloomfield Avenue, the majority in the Third Ward; also Valley Road in the Second Ward and a portion of the Fourth Ward, also along Bloomfield Avenue.
Montclair was groundbreaking as home to one of the state’s first medical marijuana dispensaries — Greenleaf, which has now become Ascend.
Three emergency resolutions were passed Tuesday ahead of a state-imposed deadline (New Jersey towns had until August 21 to pass a law on recreational cannabis). The final votes on all three were passed 5-2, with the two no votes coming from Councilor Cummings and First Ward Councilor Bill Hurlock.