Thorough and balanced due diligence required for cannabis dispensaries in Princeton

The Cannabis Task Force (CTF) recently presented their unanimously-supported recommendation report to the Princeton Mayor and Council. The decision to open recreational dispensaries presents great uncertainties for our community, yet the CTF’s report has taken an entirely Pollyannaish attitude. No negative effects or risk mitigation strategies are mentioned.  Scientific data supports the link between recreational local cannabis dispensaries and the increase of cannabis use among the underage group. There are also notable negative impacts on public health, public safety, the environment and real estate values. Ignoring all negatives makes the report exclusively one-sided, clearly incomplete, and casts serious doubt on its conclusions.

Twenty-two people were involved in authoring the CTF report. Strangely, nobody highlighted lessons learned from cannabis retail implementations in other states, and the need to include a risk mitigation plan. Where are the BOE members, school principals, child psychologists, addiction therapists, and pediatricians in the CTF?

The CTF report claims local dispensaries will “reduce underage access to cannabis by working to eliminate Princeton’s illegal cannabis market.” Yet, there is no evidence supporting that claim. On the contrary, legal dispensaries in many parts of the country have created a boom for underground markets by introducing cannabis products to more people, especially the young.

The CTF stresses that they kept social and racial justice considerations in the forefront in formulating their recommendations.  Unfortunately, the report fails to articulate how establishing cannabis dispensaries will benefit those in our community who have been wronged by the injustice of the War on Drugs and how it will benefit our community as a whole. While it’s an admirable intention to use all of the 2% revenue from local dispensaries toward social justice causes, the report includes no projection of estimated tax revenue and is void of any discussions on the potential costs our town will likely incur on abuse treatment, abuse prevention and education, law enforcement and public safety. A detailed cost-benefit analysis should be an integral part of any studies on this issue.

Our community, especially our youth, deserves thorough and balanced due diligence from the Cannabis Task Force. Princeton is a town that said no to McDonald’s. We should at least exercise the same level of prudence when it comes to local cannabis dispensaries.

Jian Chen


  1. There are many unanswered questions. Can we wait to see what happens in other NJ towns before jumping in quickly for what will be a permanent change to Princeton?

    1. “Permanent” is the right word. Once opened, the existing NJ laws offer almost no path for a municipality to close/remove a cannabis dispensary. This is another example of many important aspects of the cannabis dispensary deliberation that are missing from the CTF report.

      For the legal minds, here is the text:

      “At the end of a five-year period following the initial failure of a municipality to enact an ordinance prohibiting the operation of one or more classes of cannabis establishment, or cannabis distributors or cannabis delivery services, and every five-year period thereafter following a failure to enact a prohibiting ordinance, the municipality shall again be permitted to prohibit the future operation of any one or more classes of cannabis establishment, or cannabis distributors or cannabis delivery services through the enactment of an ordinance during a new 180-day period, but this ordinance shall be prospective only and not apply to any cannabis establishment, distributor or delivery service operating in the municipality prior to the enactment of the ordinance.”

  2. Where is the Princeton PBA statement on town cannabis businesses, drugged driving impairment, crime, youth use, in town consumption, safety and enforcement? I did not see the Police Chief’s statement or the PBA statement on a serious issue that will affect every Princeton resident.

  3. Growing one pot plant is the equivalent of burning a full tank of gas. Where’s sustainable Princeton in that? Up in smoke.

  4. I agree with CTF pro cannabis dispensary member Jazams owner Dean Smith that we should equate alcohol with cannabis. Alcohol abuse kills 100,000 people a year. Is this what we want for Princeton or anyone? Making access easier to another influential and mind altering substance is abhorrent and allowing dispensaries to be close to our children’s schools and their playgrounds is shameful.

  5. I am glad the school board wants cannabis stores to be at least 1,000 feet away from schools. The distance of dispensaries from school buildings should absolutely consider the safety of our children and young adults. I sure wouldn’t want to put my kids and grandkids near anyone who might have bad intentions of selling marijuana to them. 1,000 feet minimum is at least the right distance for our small town since lots of kids walk and bike around town or to school. As a former crossing guard these are kids I will always want to keep safe.

    As a senior citizen with health issues I don’t mind using my medical marijuana card to get the cannabis I need from the dispensary on Route 1 or in Cranbury to keep it away from Princeton children and young adults. My doctor told me at my last renewal appointment that delivery will also be available soon for medical and recreational cannabis. Why you would want to take it for fun I don’t know. I tell my kids to get high on life!

    I know and trust the local dispensaries I have been to and they told me that they will deliver the same product to me when they can.

    For the sake of the youngsters I think we adults have a responsibility to keep drugs away from them. Painkillers like cannabis and opioids should not be taken lightly. We adults have a responsibility to keep drugs away from the kids. It’s just part of being a parent to keep them out of harms way and raise them right.

    I’m not one for politics but I saw this issue and as somebody who is prescribed cannabis I wanted to offer my opinion.

    Have a happy new year,

  6. The supporters of marijuana legalisation hope the policy will decrease the consumption of other drugs and alcohol. However, four years after the legalisation of recreational marijuana, Colorado remained the national leader for the rate of consumption of four key intoxicants: marijuana, opioids, cocaine, and alcohol. Moreover, data shows youth marijuana use may entail more significant risks of opioid misuse.

    Think carefully before a hasty decision. Public health and safety should come before profit especially since adults can easily and legally obtain the product. Three in town dispensaries in this small college town are excessive are not needed. I’d like to know what the police say since they will have to enforce the laws and deal with impaired drivers. I did not see that in the task force report. I moved my family to Princeton to keep our kids safe and away from drugs and crime. A grab and go pot shop will not be good for town businesses. And I don’t think it will make parking and traffic better. My former town in California had to install cameras in front of their cannabis dispensary so the police could catch guys with stolen cars! Look it up, Modesto. Two cars were just stolen in Princeton and two people died in a violent deadly crash as they drove away. I cannot believe you want to turn this family friendly town into the next San Francisco. I’m really disappointed.

  7. A few weeks before presenting to council and after recommendations are finalized the CTF changes the composition of the group and adds a represent from the black community. Where are representatives with opposing views or from other demographics? The Board of Ed also remains unrepresented. Yet the CTF claims thoroughness. I agree that the CTF has formulated their opinions in an echo chamber. A council decision based on the current CTF recommendations will be regrettable.

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