Will we revitalize an historic town, or will we cultivate the same mistakes and harvest the same results?
Woodbury wouldn’t be so great - especially in its history of implementing good ideas - if its citizens didn’t identify the problems of their day and resolve to fix them. We must push our city’s government to rise to the challenge of continuing to respect Woodbury’s remarkable history. As it stands today the current administration isn’t meeting the occasion.
This city has lost nearly 22% of its population since 1970. Woodbury desperately needs to capitalize on new opportunities to revitalize and reinvent itself as we move further into the 21st century, a time in which it seems nearly everything is broken, inefficient or incompetently run. We cannot advertise to newcomers with the empty promises of “potential," and we should not create barriers too high for the people who live here to overcome. Real economic growth and opportunity must be fostered within our borders. We are being presented with a generation-defining opportunity to make a name for ourselves yet again and restore us to the forefront, where we belong.
The recreational marijuana policy here in town is an all-important place to start. Woodbury’s marijuana policy is frankly a mess: ridiculously overpriced, an oversight committee not reflective of the makeup of who lives here, and very little resident input on who gets those permits.
The State of NJ recommends that the application fee for a retail dispensary cost anywhere from $200 to $800. But in Woodbury, that fee is $10,000. You read that right! Ten. Thousand. Dollars.
That eye-popping price tag pushes out almost every working-class Woodbury resident with an entrepreneurial spirit. Only the business interests of corporate-dominated industries like big pharma and out-of-state big weed can afford such an exorbitant fee. We fear that is by design, either to stifle the cannabis business entirely or to appease the angry, loud minority of dissenters who are frightened by social change and/or driven by dated moral convictions about cannabis use. Creating a financial barrier too high for working people to compete for a share of this burgeoning market is unfair to the entrepreneurs and local small business owners who wish to start from the ground up here. It flies in the face of what our town is known for - being a front runner - and does not seek to fix the problems of our time. We should seek a $200 application fee for residents of our town and give their applications priority in reviewing.
If we truly care about creating a fair, inclusive environment and creating a fair say in who gets to open a cannabis shop in town, City Council’s application review board should reflect Woodbury’s diversity and include people of color, who have been deliberately targeted in the war on drugs in the past. They should have their voices heard, now and in the future.
Woodbury United Democrats propose the changes outlined here to create a policy which the rest of New Jersey and potentially the rest of the country can - and should - replicate.
Jared Hunter, Jason Woolf, Pascual Ortiz and Steve Cope promise to continue to work with leaders in the cannabis industry to make sure our city is up to date on the latest developments, learn how those developments can best benefit our community, and place justice and equity at the center of the policies we enact by putting our residents first, thereby creating the conditions necessary to put us at the forefront, where we belong.
Happy 4/20 y'all - blaze responsibly!