By Maddy Vitale
Somers Point City Council made a statement introducing an ordinance at a meeting Oct. 11 that would prohibit the sale of recreational marijuana in the community.
But on Thursday night, when it came up for second reading and a final vote by the governing body, Councilman Dennis Tapp asked that it be tabled instead.
“I don’t have enough information. I don’t know what the state will pass, what the impact is to the taxpayers, or what the benefit is to the taxpayers,” Tapp explained. “I’m not for this and I’m not against this. I am looking at the financial impact here.”
Medical marijuana is legal in New Jersey. Recreational facilities, or pot shops, are not. However, Gov. Phil Murphy made it a campaign promise to legalize recreational use of marijuana. The matter is pending in the legislature.
Some communities, such as Point Pleasant Beach and Berkeley Township, both in Ocean County, adopted ordinances prohibiting recreational cannabis sales in the communities. Several towns in North Jersey have also adopted the measure.
Both Council President Sean McGuigan and Councilman Ron Meischker were opposed to tabling the ordinance. Despite their objections, Council tabled it anyway.
McGuigan asked what would happen if City Council adopts the ordinance at a later date but the state makes recreational pot facilities legal.
City Council Solicitor Randy Lafferty said the state law would preempt the local law.
McGuigan said by adopting the ordinance, even if state law would dictate, it would send a message that Somers Point is not in favor of allowing pot facilities.
“There are other ways to send a message. If you have a philosophical or moral position, then let your legislators know,” said City Business Administrator Wes Swain.
Meischker asked how long the city would have to take up the tabled ordinance again for discussion and a vote.
Lafferty said City Council would have a window of anywhere from six months to a year.
In other business, Meischker gave a report regarding his duty as the city’s Harbormaster.
He said he and volunteers Paul Huber, Fred Akers and Greg Gregory removed a good portion of a wayward, massive fishing net that was caught by the Ocean City Welcome Center.
“We will go back early next week to remove the remainder of it. Right now, it is not a hazard and not catching any fish,” Meischker said.
In another matter, Mayor Jack Glasser gave kudos to the Police Chief Mike Boyd and his department for a successful Trunk-or-Treat celebration held Oct. 12.
“It brought over 1,000 people to a safe environment at City Hall where people could enjoy the fellowship,” Glasser said. “It was a fabulous night for all, especially the children. More than anything, in this day and age, we provided a safe place for the kids to trick or treat.”