Awaiting results in Trenton, Hoboken council looks at temporary marijuana ban

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Awaiting a vote from the state legislature, the Hoboken City Council voted 8-0(1) on first reading to amend the city’s zoning laws and regulations to temporarily ban marijuana establishments.

Last month at the Jubilee Center Mayor Ravi Bhalla led a forum on the implications for Hoboken should recreational marijuana be legalized by the state legislature.

He said then that the council will be taking up an ordinance “that would create a regulatory framework in the event that medicinal and adult-use marijuana were to become legalized in New Jersey.”

The council didn’t discuss or debate the merits of the resolution, but a variety of Hoboken residents spoke during the public portion to express their support, and in some cases, strong opposition to the prospect of marijuana retail shops opening in the city.

One of those in favor is David Serrano, who incurred injuries while serving in the military for six years and relies on cannabis to treat his ailments.

In an interview, he described himself as a “medical refugee” because he had to go out of state to get access to cannabis treatments.

“I’ve resorted to this plant as a personal medicine for myself. Because of the nature of the legalities in my hometown I was forced to be a medical refugee and have to leave the state for the last seven years,” he began.

“I’m terribly proud of the conversation being had tonight and I hope that we can see an expansive market and that refugees that have had to leave this state can start coming back home to be with their friends and families.”

He said that describing himself as a “medical refugee” illustrates the plight that he had to endure and long distances he’s had to travel to receive the only treatment that to date has helped him.

“If you look at refugee crises anywhere in the world there’s going to be a lot of reasons whether it’s food, famine or tyranny. And the social implications of cannabis prohibition is very similar to tyrannical governments’ perception of control and really the injustices they’ve done on people of color, and people particularly from my community so I absolutely use that terminology in its very definitive term.”

Specially, the resolution will prohibit the commercial sale, growth, distribution and use of marijuana in retail/commercial establishments. A new resolution can be introduced and voted on once state lawmakers come to an agreement on marijuana legalization.

Councilwoman-at-Large Vanessa Falco was the only official who did not vote in the affirmative on the measure, opting to abstain instead.

The neighboring municipalities of Weehawken and Jersey City have passed similar legislation as they also await the results in Trenton.

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