Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Councilwoman Tiffanie Fisher: 'Many unanswered questions for our community about marijuana'

Official release:

Dear friends and neighbors:
This update includes a recap of Wednesday’s marijuana meeting, some color on the 120 messages I have heard so far on the subject, and the first few seasonal mentions for the upcoming holidays.  An odd combination, but one that seems to work today. 
11/19 Marijuana Meeting at Jubilee Center
If you want to watch it, Hudson County View actually recorded the entire meeting.  Click HERE to watch.  As I mentioned before, this meeting was requested by me and other members of the City Council after seeing the mayor’s ordinance on the council agenda for the 10/17 meeting.  The meeting itself, however, was scheduled and organized by the mayor’s office.
My recap could be really long, detailing all that was said.  Or short.  And for once I am going to opt for short.  The audience was heavily weighted with cannabis industry representatives and supporters.  And most of the non-elected officials on the panel were cannabis industry representatives and advocates.  The discussion was more about the related social and health issues and broad advocacy for legalizing marijuana, and less about addressing specific issues relating to Hoboken.   Some residents expressed their frustration that this was the case, given the premise of the meeting was to talk about the mayor's proposed ordinance and law changes in Hoboken.  Both Councilman Russo and I spoke to this towards the end of the meeting.  My comments – which you can see if you skip to 1:30 of the HCV video- basically say that we still have a lot of unanswered questions and legwork to do relating to this issue.  
The meeting last night was informative – I will give it that.  This is an issue that I myself need to learn more about, so a discussion on the more macro related issues I think is helpful.  But it fell short of moving the discussion forward in Hoboken which I think we need to do in light of the potential state legislation.  Assemblywoman Chaparro did let us know that there has not yet been any official hearing or debate at the state level and a vote is not yet pending.  Assemblyman Mukherji was not in attendance because he has a conflict relating to the legislation.  I mistakenly stated previously that he would attend and that he is a sponsor.
This meeting is only the first, not the last, public discussion on the topic.  As I said at the meeting, we first need to understand what action, if any, the state is taking and then we will take whatever steps (and time) necessary to get this decision right for Hoboken.  The mayor was kind enough to end the meeting by handing off his ordinance to the city council to address.  Lucky us. smiley I have spoken with Councilwoman Giattino, and will speak with other councilmembers as well, about arranging the next community meeting to discuss this important issue.  We are targeting early December and will let you know when we land on a date.
Feedback I Received On The Mayor’s Proposed Ordinance – 
I have received approximately 120 responses so far to my 10/23 email and they keep coming.  Thank you – the broken record in me says again, more voices are always better.  Right now, after logging in 80, the tally it is about 45% leaning “Yes” in the 2nd ward and still 50% leaning “Yes” in the rest of Hoboken.  I will finish and get these out to everyone asap.  I can tell you that along the way, as I tabulated, the vote generally hovered around 50/50 give or take – both for the 2nd ward and separately for the rest of Hoboken.  About 2/3 of respondents are from the 2nd ward.  What does this mean to me?  It means that this is a complicated issue for all of Hoboken and that we need to work hard to ensure any legislation is more right for more people.  
The specific responses really varied – and I think you will find them interesting when you see them.  In general, it is recreational marijuana that people are most concerned with; there seems to be a lot of support for medicinal.  And the one theme that seemed to be referenced the most from all sides was the concern about how Hoboken will effectively enforce what I will refer to as “Sidewalk Smoking”.  Concerns mentioned include children coming into contact with it, the lack of tolerance for the smell, the health concerns about secondary smoke or the possibilities for “contact high”.  
So more to come and thank you to the many who are already engaging... please encourage your neighbors to do so as well.