Council and weed
Ultimately, the decision about how marijuana is used, sold, grown and distributed in the boundaries of the municipality of Hammonton will be the purview of the seven members of town council (including Mayor Stephen DiDonato). For details about what those council members think about the issue (along with the thoughts of town solicitor Michael Malinsky), read Gazette Staff Writer Joseph F. Berenato’s article on page 1 of this week’s The Gazette.
It’s important to note that the council appears to have decided to tackle the issue, and not just let the 180-day period end without ordinances regarding marijuana being instituted on the local level. That is a good move—Hammonton is always better off when we control our own destiny—and it prevents a situation where marijuana sales would just begin after August 21 without any local ordinances restricting them, because the town did not take action.
The marijuana, or “weed,” issue is an historic one for the local town council. While the referendum question passed in the state (and the Hammonton voters supported it) the task of regulating it remains a question each municipality in the state, including Hammonton, must face. There are varying ways to face it, and one of the most difficult ways is the method the town council and town solicitor discuss in this week’s Gazette.
Some of the best ordinances come out of a healthy, public debate, however. If that is what the council does—provide a transparent discussion at council meetings that results in ordinances regarding marijuana use, sales, distribution and growth—with the public’s safety in mind—then they will be doing the public’s business before the August 21 deadline, and not ducking the issue.
Our elected officials have more items on their agenda than at any time in memory. How they deal with those items will not only show their character as members of council—they will impact the very character of this community for decades to come. The responsibility level is high, and it appears the council members understand the gravity of the present moment. We will keep our readers informed of their actions regarding marijuana and the rest of their packed agenda as they occur.