You can smoke cigarettes on the boardwalk. Why not pot, advocates ask.
By MaryAnn Spoto | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com May 5, 2017 8:45AM
A contingent of medical marijuana patients is pushing Seaside Heights officials to let them light up on the boardwalk where tobacco smokers do.
Seaside Heights Mayor Anthony Vaz said the borough council would consider the request of Edward "Lefty" Grimes and his two friends who had a civil encounter with police officers on Saturday and then took their issue to the borough council meeting on Wednesday.
In videos recorded of both events and posted to his Facebook page, Grimes, a self-proclaimed educator of New Jersey's medical marijuana laws, said he's been to about 60 towns across the state to explain to local officials the rights of medical marijuana patients.
Grimes and two friends were approached by Seaside Heights police officers on Saturday when Michelle Burns tried to light up a marijuana joint while they were sitting in a designated smoking area on the boardwalk on Saturday.
Burns has multiple sclerosis and uses marijuana to ease her symptoms, Grimes tells the officers.
In the video, the officers cordially explains to them that while that area is set aside for smokers, it doesn't mean smokers of marijuana - even if they have a medical marijuana card.
They'd have to go off the boardwalk, preferably to the privacy of their own vehicles, to smoke, the officers tell them.
Grimes, an East Hanover resident, says the state's medical marijuana laws allow them to smoke wherever tobacco smokers do. The officers say that's not their understanding of the law and that until the town gets clarification from a higher law enforcement agency, it's sticking with its position banning smoking of marijuana on the boardwalk.
At the council meeting, the borough attorney said officials were within their right to ban the smoking of medical marijuana there because the boardwalk is considered a recreation center - one of the places exempt from the law.
"That is not to say there can't be alteration of the rules," the borough attorney said. "It is something that will be considered."