Seaside Heights officials are in the midst of crafting an ordinance that would ban the sale of recreational marijuana in the borough, should it be legalized by the state.
The borough’s planning board met Wednesday night to discuss the issue from a land use perspective and voice any concerns before an ordinance is introduced by the borough council. The governing body may consider the measure sometime next month. The ordinance being considered by Seaside Heights, at least in its current draft form, differs from a prohibition on recreational cannabis sales introduced by Brick Township earlier this week. The Seaside Heights version draws on the illegality of marijuana under federal law to enable its ban through land use.
“The attorney general of the United States, any time he or she chooses, could enforce the law,” said board member Frank Santora, a retired attorney. “I think that it is in order for the mayor and council to be on safe ground to adopt this.”
Specifically, the proposed ordinance bars the planning board from granting approval to any application for a business that is violating a federal statute. It also includes language that specifically prohibits the sale of marijuana and any products from the cannabis plant from being sold in town.
Some board members raised issues with the language, raising the argument that a court last year effectively nullified a federal ban on sports betting. Borough Administrator Christopher Vaz, who sits on the board, also said some products from the cannabis plant, such as CBD oil (which contains non-psychoactive properties) are legal and are already widely sold. The board’s concerns will be forwarded to the borough attorney in a letter, said Rob Greitz, the board’s attorney.
If introduced and passed, the ordinance would make Seaside Heights one of about 70 towns that have adopted preemptive bans on the sale of marijuana, should it become legal. Brick Township’s proposed ban, introduced Tuesday, faced opposition at a council meeting, and Toms River halted its proposal for a ban following a public hearing.
Mayor Anthony Vaz has previous said he would be in favor of a ban on dispensaries in town.
“I can understand medical use, but I am against using it recreationally,” Vaz said.