Mayor announces her opposition to marijuana sales in town

During her mayor’s report at the Kenilworth Council meeting on Wednesday, March 24, Mayor Linda Karlovitch says she is opposed to the sale of marijuana in the borough. The draft ordinance addressing this issue will be considered by the governing body.

KENILWORTH, NJ — Mayor Linda Karlovitch announced during her mayor’s report at the Kenilworth Council meeting on Wednesday, March 24, that she is opposed to the sale of marijuana in the borough. However, no decisions have been made at this point, and the topic will be tackled in upcoming council meetings.

“There’s no doubt that this has been a time of a challenge for Kenilworth. We’ve faced a financial challenge of preparing our budget,” Karlovitch said on Wednesday, March 24. “There’s been a notable drop in revenue due to the pandemic. We also faced the ongoing problem of court-mandated affordable housing in the reality that continued opposition could result in the superior court taking over the task in Kenilworth, which would be a terrible result. I have recently conducted a number of meetings with Merck officials regarding their decision to move out of our community. I will carefully continue to monitor and keep the communication open between the borough and Merck officials.”

The mayor acknowledged that the potential illegal sale of marijuana within the community would be a challenge that would need to be addressed. She said she had been closely watching the different approaches being taken in other communities across New Jersey, and her recommendation was to take the necessary steps to prohibit the sale in Kenilworth. She said she had spoken to the borough attorney, Frank Capece, a contributor to this newspaper, about preparing a draft ordinance to do just that.

“I know there could be loss of tax revenue from the sale,” said Karlovitch. “I also know that local people will be able to easily cross boundaries and make the purchase. Notwithstanding, my recommendation is to take the necessary step required to prohibit the sale in our community. I welcome each member of the governing body to consider the pros and cons and cast their own vote.”

Karlovitch said each town has to adopt an ordinance on whether or not they’re for the sale of marijuana, something she said she feels has no place in Kenilworth.

“If people want marijuana, they can purchase it in neighboring communities pretty easily. It’s difficult for law enforcement. Their hands are tied, and it’s just another layer of potential issues of people driving under the influence or acting recklessly in public. I understand that they can purchase marijuana in other places; however, I’m not in favor of seeing it in our borough. I don’t want to see our youth to be able to easily access marijuana in Kenilworth,” said the mayor on Friday, March 26.

As the mayor explained, on Feb. 22, 2021, Gov. Phil Murphy enacted into law bills commonly referred to as the “marijuana legislation,” allowing a municipality to adopt a new ordinance within 180 days of enactment of the aforementioned law.

Although the mayor and Borough Council have apparently concluded that it is in the best interests of the borough of Kenilworth not to permit in any zone the operation of a business selling marijuana, cannabis or hashish and/or the paraphernalia that facilitates the use of the same, the vote on a ban has not yet occurred.

“As the borough attorney, I’ve followed the mayor’s direction, and we’ve drafted an ordinance. It will be up for discussion purposes at the next meeting. Each councilman has to decide if they think it’s OK or not,” Capece said on Friday, March 26.