Members of the Monmouth County Freeholder Board want decisions on medical marijuana growth to rest with the local governing bodies.
During the board’s meeting at the building in Freehold on Thursday, Dec. 22, the freeholders voted 4-1 on a resolution opposing a State Agricultural Development Committee (SADC) statement indicating medical marijuana could be grown on preserved farmland.
Freeholder Amy Mallet, who said she supports towns having a say on local medical marijuana facilities but felt the resolution created a blanket statement on the issue, cast the dissenting vote.
Freeholder Lillian Burry said the board should consider an expanded resolution opposing medical marijuana growth on all farmland.
“I don’t think it should end with this. I think the threat is just as great on an unpreserved farm,” Burry said. “I do believe the decision should rest with the municipalities and their zoning boards as to whether it’s an appropriate use of the property in question. I do not object to the program if it is dispensed according to regulations.”
Monmouth County may potentially house one of six medical marijuana facilities in the state under the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act. Upper Freehold officials are fighting plans by Breakwater Alternative Treatment Center to establish a facility in town, according to a report in The Star-Ledger. Several Upper Freehold residents spoke at a Dec. 8 meeting of the freeholder board to voice opposition to Breakwater’s proposal.
Burry said the decision to draft a resolution on the SADC statement came as a result of the events in Upper Freehold.
“The same thing can happen in Millstone, in Middletown, or in Colts Neck,” Burry said.
Freehold Deputy Director John Curley said he was not opposed to the state’s medical marijuana act but believed municipalities should be able to determine whether or not a facility belongs in a town.
“I think home rule is the omnipotent point here. Municipalities have their own planning and zoning boards and we have seen the literal destruction when the state steps in and attempts an overall program. We do have to protect our local communities,” Curley said.