Comprehensive marijuana reform was a cornerstone of Governor Phil Murphy‘s campaign. He won Hudson County with 80% of the vote. Now that the winds of change smell like weed, there are suddenly very vocal concerns about Reefer Madness here in Hoboken.
Some discussions have cited fears over kids randomly picking up gummy bears off the street and getting high, rolling gun battles between cash-laden cartels, and the odor of marijuana wafting into homes. Proponents of marijuana in Hoboken see it as a lot of baseless pearl clutching. Yet there seems to be a segment of the population who are all for social justice, just “Not in my backyard…”
The City will be hosting a meeting at the Jubilee Center at 601 Jackson St. on Monday at 6:30 p.m. in an attempt to get a sense of the public’s opinion the issue of marijuana in the Mile Square City.
Hoboken Mayor Ravi Bhalla put forth an ordinance on the zoning of marijuana dispensaries, in the likely event of a statewide move to legalize the substance. According to the verbiage of that ordinance:
- Marijuana dispensaries and retail stores are NOT allowed in Residential Zones, although Court Street and I-1(W) are arguably residential.
- The maximum number of licenses in Hoboken is three and no more than one license can be in a district.
Bhalla’s ordinance was originally on the City Council meeting agenda for October 17, but was pulled so that the City could have a chance to hear from its constituents.
“I don’t see the rush and would prefer no vote is taken until the State level vote occurs,” says Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher. “Then we know what we are voting on. But this is fluid, and we should all be trying to become as more educated as possible in the interim.”
As the state continues to pass around various versions of a marijuana decriminalization program, neighboring Jersey City has taken a much more aggressive approach to enacting its own reform, announcing the citywide decriminalization of marijuana in July.
“The fact is, marijuana arrests and prosecutions in New Jersey, and around the nation, point to severe inequalities that negatively impact people of color disproportionately, and lead to long-term economic challenges for anyone who finds themselves prosecuted for possession,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop. “We are working to correct this with our new policy in a proactive way, and I am proud that we will be the first in the state to do so.”
The move by a municipality to push the issue has fired up the conversation at the State level, although the legislation continues to drag.
The Monday evening meeting will feature Hoboken elected officials, as well as members of the New Jersey State Assembly, marijuana advocates, a representative from the ACLU and Hoboken Police Chief Ken Ferrante.
“Thankfully the social injustices in marijuana related arrests are being addressed by the State,” says Councilwoman Jennifer Giattino. “The purpose of the meeting is about if and where marijuana establishments should be located in Hoboken.”
It begins at 6:30 p.m. at the Jubilee Center (601 Jackson St.)