Woodcliff Lake is the latest Bergen County town to ban the sale of marijuana within its limits, in an attempt to circumvent a proposed state bill that, if passed, would legalize the drug in New Jersey.
The prohibitions, adopted unanimously by the Borough Council this week, bar businesses from selling, distributing, cultivating, growing or facilitating the sale or use of both recreational and medical marijuana. The sale of related paraphernalia is also banned.
“This is a very important ordinance for our community that addresses a very serious issue concerning the use and sale of marijuana,” Mayor Carlos Rendo said. “It’s not about money, it’s about health and safety.”
The borough joins several other Bergen County municipalities, including Mahwah, Carlstadt, Garfield, Hasbrouck Heights and Wood-Ridge, that have passed similar ordinances.
The state Legislature is considering a bill that would make marijuana legal for anyone who is at least 21 years old and would further expand medical access to the drug. State lawmakers have said the bill could be approved by the end of this month.
If passed, the bill would make New Jersey the 10th state to allow adults to buy and use marijuana without medical conditions.
The initiative, which has been pushed by Gov. Phil Murphy, could bring in $850 million a year by 2022, experts predict. That would represent 2.4 percent of the total U.S. market.
The Borough Council members, however, said the concerns regarding safety, security and general nuisances that might arise from legalizing cannabis outweigh the potential revenue that could be garnered from taxes.
The town isn’t alone. Murphy’s campaign for legalization has drawn opposition from many Republican lawmakers and some Democrats throughout the state.
Freeholders in Ocean and Monmouth counties have taken a stance against the legalization of recreational marijuana and have asked their municipalities to join them in opposing the issue. Point Pleasant Beach and Shrewsbury have banned the sale of marijuana.
Woodcliff Lake’s regulations prohibit facilities that sell marijuana within one-quarter mile of any school, church, playground, sports facility, YMCA , residential zone or general commercial zone. Given the layout of the town, this means there is nowhere that it can be sold.
Rendo, who ran with former Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno in her bid against Murphy for the governor’s office, stressed the importance of preventing drug use in young people.
“We’ve heard from experts and people at the high school — we’re at the front lines, and this is where it starts,” he said. “We’re working to protect the health and safety of all of our residents.”