When the meeting opened for general public comment, many of the callers were again people opposed to the opening of a medical marijuana dispensary at the corner of Pompton and Claremont avenues. Under state law, anyone looking to open such a dispensary must have a so-called letter of support from the government of the town in which the facility will be operated in order to open. While a medical marijuana dispensary is not illegal under current Verona law, the Council is looking to prevent Green Thumb Industries (GTI), the company seeking the letter, from also selling recreational marijuana if New Jersey voters approve the referendum on that this November.
While questions raised during public comments must be addressed to the Council as a whole, Rob Caruso drew the ire of Councilwoman Christine McGrath and other Council members because his comments targeted the councilwoman. Caruso asserted that she had not watched a teleconference that he and other marijuana opponents had organized and asked why McGrath has not taken a position for or against recreational marijuana. “When you ran last year you were the, quote, ‘family candidate’,” Caruso said. “Well nothing destroys families more than addiction.”
McGrath said that while she had not attended the live teleconference, she did watch the recording on YouTube. “You’re accusing me of doing all this research and then not yet making a decision on recreational, well there’s no decision to make on recreational,” McGrath said. “It is not legal in New Jersey. At this moment there is no law to make a decision on. And even after November, we won’t even know what this decision is.”
McGrath and Councilman Kevin Ryan suggested that, if Veronans are opposed to recreational marijuana, they should reach out to Verona’s state representatives, Assemblyman Jay Weber, Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce and Sen. Joe Pennacchio. “Direct your ire to where it should be directed, and that’s farther up the line,” said Ryan. “This is classic New Jersey politics, put everything down on the local level and try to see if it kicks back up, throw something up against the wall, see if it sticks.”
During public comments, the Council also heard from Hugh Giordano, an organizer for the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 152 that has organized marijuana workers elsewhere in New Jersey, who asserted that GTI is anti-union. (The midwest newspaper Quad-City Times reported last November on a drive to unionize a GTI operation in Illinois.)