Some also equate the recent legalization of marijuana to alcohol, which has been legal in New Jersey and the United States since the repeal of Prohibition. While only 30 of NJ’s 566 municipalities prohibit the sale of alcohol, at least 70 municipalities took action prior to legalization to prohibit marijuana sales in their towns. Newly-enacted legalization provides local governments with an opt-out clause specifically for that purpose. I imagine many (if not all) of these towns will do so again and will now likely be joined by many others who do not want these sales to take place within their borders.
Despite the creation of the Cannabis Commission, this administration has already heard from residents on this issue. According to the much-touted Master Plan Reexamination Survey, over 57% of residents disapproved of marijuana retail businesses in Westfield, as compared to 21% who approved. This same survey has been used by the mayor to push other initiatives, including involuntary historic preservation and massive, no-bid redevelopment downtown. Marijuana dispensaries are not the answer to the question of downtown vacancies and if these are the types of businesses Town Hall and DWC seek to attract, then perhaps it’s time for new leadership at both.