Committee to vote on ordinance banning cannabis sale, production

Officials postpone possible approval to allow further discussion

Tabernacle Municipal Center

Tabernacle is postponing a vote on cannabis regulations.

An ordinance setting rules of cannabis sale and use was scheduled for a vote at the township committee’s May 24 session, but a postponement was recommended by Township Solicitor William Burns. If passed, the legislation would prohibit the sale, cultivation or manufacturing of cannabis products within municipal boundaries.

The ordinance would also prohibit public use of cannabis products. It sets guidelines for law enforcement, including a clause that allows police to “inspect any matter, thing, premises, place, person, record, incident or event as necessary.” Burns suggested tabling the ordinance for a later committee meeting so it can be discussed during an executive session.

“It is proper for executive session in my opinion,” he explained. “So that I may actually exercise my ethical duty as a lawyer and advise the committee about the potential ramifications, legality and constitutionality of the proposed ordinance.”

Fran Brooks, a Tabernacle resident and contributor to the blog The Tabernacle Journal, told the committee she was concerned about the wording of the ordinance.

“It raises serious issues regarding searches and personal liberty,” she said. “I would like the committee to look at the lack of in-depth definitions, the disproportionate treatment regarding other products with age-related restrictions and the inconsistencies and redundancies in the ordinance.”

Also at the meeting, the committee passed introduction of the 2021 municipal budget of nearly $5.4 million. The new financial plan has no tax increase despite the spending of more funds because the township used surplus monies to balance costs.

The township received a grant that will fund a portion of the $11,742 to be used for drug and alcohol abuse education and prevention. The committee approved the application for another grant totaling $340,000 to improve walking paths in township parks.

Engineer Dante Guzzi reported that the township will soon begin grant-funded accessibility improvements to town hall. Further improvements on Oak Shade Road are also underway, as well as applications for future infrastructure grants.

The township may consider reopening parks for summer sports leagues, according to Administrator Douglas Cramer, as well as the start of fall soccer in August.

Emergency Management Coordinator Robert Sunbury said he is comfortable  allowing outside groups to use the parks since the state changed mask guidelines last month.

“I have no issue with opening up the park,” he noted. “In fact, I’d encourage it with the nicer weather and the fact that outdoors has shown to be a safe place to be.”

Sunbury added that the township will host a vaccine clinic on June 5 at Tabernacle Fire Company. The walk-in clinic will provide free Pfizer vaccines from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The next township committee meeting will take place on June 14 at 7:30 p.m.