Princeton Council to discuss allowing cannabis retail businesses tonight

The Princeton Cannabis Task Force has reached the end of a months-long process to make recommendations to town officials for cannabis retail business operations. The Princeton Council is slated to discuss the recommendations during a 7 p.m. special council meeting via Zoom tonight, Nov. 30.

The task force began researching and soliciting public feedback on retail cannabis stores in April after New Jersey voters approved legalizing recreational marijuana use for adults 21 years and older in November of 2020.

The Princeton Council voted in July to prohibit the operation of cannabis businesses in Princeton to give the town’s 23-member task force more time to develop its recommendations.

Princeton Council president Leticia Fraga said the task force is not debating whether cannabis businesses will be legal to use in Princeton — New Jersey voters have already decided that — but rather, whether retail businesses will be allowed in Princeton, and what kinds of licenses.

The recommendations for cannabis retail operations are driven by data as well as community input, Councilwoman Eve Niedergang said. She said task force members have been collecting information from other college towns that are similar to Princeton about their experiences with legalized cannabis. The task force also held a series of public meetings in September and has received further feedback from community members via email since then, she said.

Some Princeton residents have expressed concerns over the locations of cannabis retailers in recent months. Gabriel and Sheri Saltarelli started a petition in September asking that marijuana dispensaries not be allowed near schools, playgrounds, or residential neighborhoods, arguing that children and adolescents who use marijuana can suffer lasting impairments in learning, decision-making, and cognitive functioning, as well as lower academic performance. The petition has garnered 576 signatures. Some petition signers were concerned about potential locations for dispensaries. For example, the Princeton Shopping Center was one potential location where a dispensary would have been potentially allowed. The location was eliminated from recommendations after community meetings in September.

The task force is recommending that the Princeton Council vote to allow cannabis retail businesses to open in Princeton for medical and adult-use retail operations. Businesses operating other types of cannabis licenses could be considered in the future. The task force is also recommending that Princeton allow no more than three retail medical and adult-use dispensaries, with a strong preference for at least one micro-license that “has a social equity priority.”

Five commercial areas of Princeton should be zoned for cannabis retail businesses, according to the task force:
-The Dinky area/Alexander Street
– Jugtown (near the intersection of Harrison Street and Nassau Street)
– The Central Business District along Nassau Street
– Witherspoon Street North (between Green and Leigh Avenue)
○ 206 North (at Cherry Valley)

Task force members want cannabis retail businesses to be accessible by public transit, foot, or bike “in order to make cannabis accessible to those who do not own or have access to a motor vehicle.”

The task force is also recommending that cannabis retailers be subject to zoning restrictions that mirror those of alcohol retail businesses, including a requirement that retailers are located more than 200 feet from schools.

Task force members argue that allowing cannabis retail businesses in Princeton will:

  1. To remove the stigma around a product that is now legal in New Jersey, and which was used to unfairly target and criminalize Black and Brown communities in this state and in this community, with persistent racial disparities in arrests in the state and in Princeton.
  2. To provide access to a now legal product to adults 21 or older who wish to use the product for medicinal or recreational uses, and to ensure that access is provided in an equitable manner.
  3. To reduce underage access to cannabis by working to eliminate Princeton’s illegal cannabis market. The objective is to minimize the presence in the community of dangerous products, such as those laced with other drugs, making cannabis consumption safer for adult use and to reduce support for an underground and unregulated market.
  4. To positively address historical injustices of the War on Drugs, including but not limited to the disproportionate targeting of communities of color in Princeton and across the United States. This can be accomplished by directing cannabis tax revenue and impact fees toward reparative community programs, among other future recommendations beyond revenue sharing, including those related to equity in enforcement and equity in the cannabis industry.

If cannabis retailers are permitted in Princeton, the task force’s next step will be to develop educational resources for people who are interested in using cannabis or whose children are using cannabis, Niedergang said.

The petition opposing retail cannabis businesses mentions the 2 percent tax on marijuana dispensaries that would bring in additional income for the town, arguing that Princeton should be able to balance its budget without the 2% tax on marijuana dispensaries.

Niedergang said the task force sees the tax income only as a side benefit of permitting cannabis retailers in Princeton.

“One of the main reasons many of us believe there should be a dispensary in Princeton is to make a statement in opposition to the years of discriminatory enforcement of marijuana laws that fell disproportionately on Black and Brown communities in Princeton and elsewhere,” Niedergang said.

Fraga said the task force has approached the issue with a social justice perspective and wants to provide licenses to women- and minority-owned businesses, particularly ones with local connections.

Niedergang said she believes that opening retail cannabis stores in Princeton will encourage other communities to follow suit.

The Princeton Council will likely draft an ordinance on allowing retail cannabis businesses after the discussion tonight, and vote on the ordinance in December or January. Public comment will be allowed during the special Zoom meeting tonight.

Reporter Krystal Knapp contributed to this story.


  1. I find it absolutely crazy, that we’re going to allow marijuana stores in town and expose our kids to it b/c some people in the administration want to make a political statement about racial inequality..

  2. I read the CTF report. A Princeton Middle School student cites studies and research in an 8th grade report. The CTF members site themselves? Please write a more comprehensive document with the pros and cons for a well-researched and thoughtful explanation of why the residents of Princeton need a cannabis dispensary. Hopefully the CTF is not being driven by the cannabis lobbyists or greed to spend the cannabis tax on pet projects instead of bettering the town for everyone. Making a problem where there isn’t one.

  3. ZenLeaf is 7 miles away and the CTF states there will be delivery across the state. Explain why there is a rush to bring Marijuana to a university town. It’s the money folks. The CTF and council can spend the money for their unknown future “recommendations.” Where the money, if any, gets spent should be defined clearly in any proposal.

  4. You can expect lots of Cannabis Task Force sessions behind closed doors and closed Town Council meetings regarding dispensaries until the CTF announces their ordinance dictating cannabis dispensaries in your town. Council is not doing due diligence and representing the parents and others who oppose dispensing marijuana in town. More than 600 have signed the petition on to say NO to Princeton pot shops near our homes, families, schools and parks. Representing the cannabis lobby in their representative democracy and not the public with a one-sided report promoting pot in the name of social justice as Udi Ofer says will give them protection of “high moral ground” so the public will be deterred from opposing the poor decision.

  5. That CTF report is one-sided poorly written and inadequately supported by data. It is an opinion piece at best. My children would get an F if they handed that in to their high school teacher as a research paper. Princeton residents deserve better data about how dispensaries have affected towns and their residents. There is no data or studies cited in the report about potential post dispensary issues: measures to guarantee safety of product or purchaser or seller, delivery details of a Princeton dispensary such as where the delivery vehicles will park, on-site consumption, house values, adolescent use, vaping safety, edible overdoses, DUIs, armed robberies, neighborhood crime data, a statement from the Princeton police since the decision was unanimous. According to the CTF list of members I find the support for a controlled substance by the Princeton Police quite shocking as well as by The Corner House. who treats teen drug addiction, and by the owner of Jazams Toy Store. I am in disbelief.

  6. how was the 2% tax determined? would there be less opposition to the CTF is the income gained by the city is far more (10%? 20%?)? would be great to fix up the public schools (and other public needs) without a constant issuance of debt and/or rise in property tax.

    1. The tax on marijuana is earmarked for social justice and not to be used to lower everyone’s taxes or to improve the schools.

  7. WRITE the mayor and the council and let them know what you think along with the 650+ signers of the petition on concerning Princeton Pot Shops. Do not be disregarded as a Princeton resident no matter what your demographic to say no to in town marijuana dispensaries and lounges.

    The council INVITED a Princeton University student to be on the Princeton Cannabis Task Force. Yet a member of the Asian community was not invited by the unelected group. What would happen if the “brown and black” communities were only considered in “future” council decisions? The CTF has disregarded the Asian community that makes up 17 percent of the population. This report is biased and not well presented showing how neighborhoods are affected or why there is a great need for a multiple dispensaries and use lounges in Princeton.

  8. The residents of the town overwhelmingly voted “yes” on the legalization referendum. Assuming, for argument’s sake, that there would be some negative effects of permitting a dispensary to open in town (although I don’t know either way), it would be pretty hypocritical to pass that burden along to other communities. Essentially, we’d collectively be saying we’re okay with marijuana being sold so long as the areas subject to any impact are less privileged than Princeton.

  9. Delivery from an already existing dispensary is a great option for the overwhelmingly large cannabis user population of Princeton. Stoners unite and support cannabis delivery!

  10. Has the CTF thoroughly researched Town Liability:

    “Alcohol, for example, has no shortage of associated health, social, and economic costs, yet states typically do not hold retailers or suppliers of alcohol liable for these harms, except for serving the obviously intoxicated. Alcohol has established a place in legal and social history that has allowed for the development of a body of laws and customs that regulate and mitigate liability claims related to its use.

    Cannabis, however, exists in a much different space. Federal illegality has made studying the effects of cannabis use difficult and regulatory guidelines for safe use are essentially non-existent. From a federal level, the Controlled Substances Act still defines marijuana as a “schedule 1” drug, which means that it has a high potential for abuse with no medical use. Regardless of the attitude of the states who have allowed legalization, on a federal level, marijuana could be found to be an unreasonably dangerous product in a products liability lawsuit.

    Marijuana edibles, with their slower onset time and greater challenge in metering dosage, provide a uniquely troublesome area for product liability. Inconsistency in potency, mislabeling or misunderstanding of packaging, or even consumer ignorance may be grounds for a products liability lawsuit if harm occurs. The ease of consumption may lead to inadvertent overconsumption. While some states have begun to require packaging that physically separates each measured dose, community standards and expectations may be hard to prove because of the historically underground nature of cannabis consumption. All these factors could come into play in court and, with so little judicial precedent, the outcome of a products liability suit around marijuana is uncertain for both plaintiff and defendant.”

  11. In all my years here this is the most ridiculous idea. I see what poor policies are doing to other towns and hope Princeton is not headed that way. It’s better to wake up instead of be pulled into all of the woke fad I’ve been hearing about. I suggest more willpower for what is right for Princeton instead of being a reed in the wind and bending to every new idea or special interest. Princeton is a great town to raise a family. Maybe I’m old fashioned wanting to keep traditions and safety at the forefront.

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