Seaside Heights has passed an ordinance banning the sale, cultivation of manufacturing of recreational marijuana in the borough, as the debate over its statewide legalization has reached a stalemate.
The borough’s desire to prohibit the sale of marijuana was conceived earlier this year when it appeared legalization was imminent. But despite the prospect of that occurring having dwindled, the borough, already having introduced its ordinance, passed it on final reading last week.
No members of the public spoke during a required hearing on the ordinance.
According to a copy of the ordinance, the law prohibits “the retail sale, cultivation, manufacturing and testing of marijuana products for recreational use” in Seaside Heights. The ordinance would bar the operation of a dispensary, grow house, preparation facility or a lab that tests the potency of cannabis strains.
“We’re cultivating an area that is a family resort,” said Mayor Anthony Vaz. “As a former educator, former superintendent of schools, I believe as a person that it is a gateway drug to harder substance abuse issues, and that’s why I’m an opponent of legalizing recreational marijuana.”
Seaside Heights, in particular, would face a unique issue had the state legislature passed its legalization measure as written. Under that law, municipalities would be either to complete ban the sale of marijuana, or they would have to completely allow it in all commercial and industrial zones. Seaside Heights, conceivably, would not have been able to limit sales to a particular area of town and would have been forced to allow dispensaries on its boardwalk.
“We’re trying to promote an image, and we’ve done it successfully, that brings families back here,” said Vaz. “I want to continue with that.”