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County Office of Substance Abuse Services is Hard at Work Responding to Marijuana Legalization

Release Date: February 26, 2019

County Office of Substance Abuse Services is Hard at Work Responding to Marijuana Legalization

The Coordinator of Substance Abuse Services and Municipal Alliance Committees, Nick Loizzi, has been actively engaged in providing Sussex County municipalities with as much information as possible to assist them in making informed decisions regarding their position on the legalization of recreational marijuana. Mr. Loizzi has partnered with the Regional Coalition for Healthy and Safe Communities, a program of the Center for Prevention and Counseling, to discuss the potential impact of recreational marijuana with the municipal governing bodies in the county.

Loizzi, Regional Coalition Coordinator Ashley Brown and Prevention Coordinator Tina Aue from the Center for Prevention and Counseling presented information to the Board of Chosen Freeholders in September related to the impact that marijuana legalization has had in states that have already passed legislation. Their information and the discussion that followed during the Freeholder meeting inspired the Board to pass a resolution expressing their opposition to legalization. Copies of the signed resolution were sent to Governor Murphy, Lt. Governor Oliver, all County Boards of Chosen Freeholders in New Jersey, and all of the mayors and council members in every town in Sussex County. Since then, Loizzi, Brown, Aue, and Annmarie Shafer have been sharing this information at municipal council meetings in an effort to encourage them to think carefully about supporting the legalization of recreational marijuana.

The Township of Wantage introduced an amendment to its zoning regulations prohibiting "all other retail and wholesale commercial activities -- including the cultivation, manufacture, sale and distribution -- of marijuana and marijuana products will be prohibited in the township." 'People talk about the financial impact of legalization and how it would bring money into the state, but they don't talk about the social costs -- and that's really what I do in my job,' Loizzi said" (NJ Herald, Oct. 2, 2018).

Other municipal leaders throughout the county took notice and have taken action to address legalization in their communities. Lafayette, Sparta, Hardyston, and Vernon have each held discussions or passed ordinances related to legalization. As a result of these efforts, the Sussex County League of Municipalities has invited Loizzi and representatives from the Center for Prevention and Counseling to make a presentation at its meeting on March 21, 2019. Loizzi looks forward to sharing this information with the larger group to help them make an informed decision about the impact that legalizing recreational marijuana would have on our communities, residents, and most importantly, the youth of Sussex County.