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Ordinance Would Prohibit Sale or Growing of Marijuana in Montgomery

By Barbara A. Preston l October 1, 2018

Should the state of New Jersey decide to legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana, Montgomery Township Committee is taking proactive measures to ensure that its farmers don’t grow it, stores don’t sell it, and people do not consume it in public places.

"The proliferation of marijuana ... which would remain prohibited under federal law ... would have significant deleterious consequences to the quality of life, as well as the health, safety, and welfare of township residents,” according to wording in a new ordinance introduced at the Sept 20 committee meeting.

The ordinance prohibits the growing, cultivation, production, manufacturing, storage, distribution, and sale of marijuana products, and any ancillary or related paraphernalia for non-medical or recreational purposes.

Also prohibited would be facilities, businesses, or establishments that would permit the consumption of recreational marijuana in the township of Montgomery.

Montgomery Police would enforce the ordinance, which would become active upon adoption. This could happen following a public hearing scheduled for the Thursday, Oct. 4, Township Committee meeting at 7 pm in the municipal building.

It was not clear what the penalty would be for violating the ordinance if it is approved.

A teacher in the audience who asked to remain anonymous because she feared she would be harassed by students or cannabis smokers, spoke up in support of the ordinance to “protect our school-age children.”

Township resident Brett Borowski also spoke at the meeting, confessing he had mixed thoughts on the legalization of recreational marijuana. On the one hand, legalization would force criminals to leave the black market in which they sell cannabis to users and may defend their territories with violence. Legalization should also ensure a safe supply, not tainted with other more dangerous substances.

“I don’t like the idea of normalizing the substance-use culture, including alcohol,” Borowski said, “but am willing to sacrifice that to prevent all the horrible side effect of prohibition.”

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Township Committeewoman Sadaf Jaffer asked that the first sentence of the ordinance be changed because "it is historically inaccurate." The sentence states, “the possession, use, production, manufacturing, sale, and distribution of marijuana and ... products have historically been prohibited.”

“That’s not true,” Jaffer said. “References to marijuana as a popular medicine are found in Chinese writings dating back to 2900 BC, and the marijuana plant made its arrival in North America in 1611 thanks to the Jamestown settlers.

George Washington with his hemp crop at Mount Vernon.

“Early colonists were required to grow hemp,” she added. “George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp for clothing, rope, and fishing nets in the 1770s. And, doctors used cannabis extracts for various ailments. Marijuana was listed in the United States Pharmacopeia as a treatment for opiate addiction, leprosy, cholera, and more.

“In the mid-1800s, hemp was the third-largest crop in the United States, behind cotton and tobacco.”

After the meeting, Jaffer, an academic, commented that: “I find resorting to vague notions of history to be unnecessary and indeed misleading to the public. Yet the other township committee members insist on keeping this language in the ordinance."

National Public Radio (NPR) recently aired a story on how hemp is once again being planted on this Founding Father’s estate — the first time in decades, maybe centuries.

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