Council gives update on cannabis at the state level

Williamstown officials discuss state cannabis legalization issue

When Phil Murphy won the 2017 gubernatorial race in New Jersey, he promised a few things, including a $15 minimum wage and guaranteed paid sick leave.

During his campaign, Murphy was on record supporting the legalization of marijuana, and while it’s still illegal for recreational uses, it is becoming a hot button issue in municipalities across the state. While nothing is set in stone at the state level, Williamstown’s elected officials are doing their best by keeping the conversation of legal, medicinal and potentially recreational marijuana open and ongoing.

The Nov. 26 council meeting is a prime example.

Councilwoman and chair of the cannabis committee, Katherine Falcone, reported on a cannabis update from the state level.

“They’re still pushing for the legalization of recreational marijuana to go on the ballot for 2020,” she said. “They’re also adding a caveat of allowing the state to mandate the locations to where the dispensaries would go.”

“The bill the legislator introduced said it would, rather than allow the town decide what is considered to be an acceptable zone or use, the legislation will permit it in a commercial district or business park zone,” councilman Cody Miller said.

Council vice president Joe Marino questioned if recreational marijuana would be forced. Township solicitor John Trimble opined it would be similar to having a dry town.

“Municipalities will have flexibilities to oppose it, to make their own determination, but it’s just a bill that’s been introduced,” Miller added.

“There’s no type of traction yet.”

In other news:

• Council gave their monthly “Spotlight on Business” to Finale Hair Studio and its owner Marilyn Wengert.

• Council discussed the possibility of having a parade for the high school state champion girls volleyball team, football team and junior football team. The trio of champions will be honored at an upcoming council meeting. The parade is tentatively set for Dec. 13.

• Falcone reported on the opening of Grindstone brick oven pizza on Main Street. The new business opened on Nov. 23.

• Miller reported the Christmas tree sale at the Williamstown Fire Company will start on Dec. 2. The hours of operation are Monday through Friday 6 to 9 p.m., Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. at the Main Street location.

• Director of community affairs Brandee Derieux said a special tree lighting on Dec. 13 from 5 to 7 p.m. is scheduled and will be held in partnership with the Southwest Council for folks suffering and fighting addiction.

• Council passed a handful of resolutions including but not limited to: awarding Neri Construction a contract for additional snow removal, awarding a contract for the renovations to Cecil Firehouse, and awarding a contract for the demolition, design and construction of a new firehouse for the Williamstown Fire Company.

The next council meeting is scheduled for Dec. 9. A work session will take place at 7 p.m. and a general meeting at 8 p.m. Both sessions are open to the public.