Op-ed: Princeton voters said yes to cannabis overwhelmingly – now let’s begin to repair the harm caused by the failed war on drugs

By Udi Ofer

On November 23, 2021, following seven months of deliberation, the Princeton Cannabis Task Force issued a report unanimously recommending that the Princeton Council allow for cannabis dispensaries in town. Princetonians overwhelmingly support the legalization of cannabis, with 75 percent of Princeton voters saying yes to legalization on the 2021 ballot, a higher proportion than the 67 percent statewide who passed the referendum.

However, shortly after the release of the Task Force report, a vocal group of Princetonians have come out against cannabis sales within city limits. It’s now time for the council to follow the recommendations of the task force and allow well-regulated dispensaries in town and to do so in a manner that will begin to repair the harm created by decades of a failed and discriminatory war on marijuana.

The 22-member Task Force, which I’m a part of, had been appointed by the Princeton Council and included members nominated by the Princeton Police Department, Princeton Board of Health, Princeton Public Schools, and Princeton Civil Rights Commission, among other municipal stakeholders. From day one, it has operated with the utmost transparency, with all its meetings open to the public. Four meetings – in-person and virtual – were held specifically to solicit input from the public, welcoming all voices and opinions.

The task force based its unanimous recommendations on three primary considerations, guided by the knowledge that Princeton is a place where residents are passionate about confronting racial inequities and that Princeton needs to play its part not just in principle, but in ways that have the power to change things.

First, the task force sought to remove the stigma around a product that is now legal in New Jersey, but its prohibition was used to unfairly target and criminalize Black and Brown communities. Historically, New Jersey has had among the nation’s highest cannabis arrest rates, and with extreme racial disparities. Black people in New Jersey have been 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people, despite Black and white people consuming marijuana at similar rates. These racial disparities in arrests were not because of differences in consumption rates. Rather, they were driven by discriminatory criminal justice policies and practices.

While Princeton itself never had a large volume of arrests for marijuana possession, the trends in arrests did largely track the broader state patterns. Like the state, Princeton had persistent and even extreme racial disparities in cannabis arrests. From 1995 to 2019, there were racial disparities in arrests every year except for one, and from 2000-2013, Princeton had the second highest racial disparity in Mercer County. In several years, more than 50 percent of all marijuana possession arrests in town were of Black people. Princeton is about six percent Black.

Second, the task force concluded that allowing dispensaries would help to reduce underage access to cannabis by working to eliminate Princeton’s existing marijuana market, and by controlling who has access to it through a highly regulated market. Task Force members felt strongly about preventing youth usage of marijuana and ensuring safety. The task force believed that a regulated market would minimize the presence in the community of dangerous products as a result of the state’s strong product safety standards, making cannabis consumption safer for adult use as well and reducing the support for an unregulated market.

Finally, the task force sought to have Princeton proactively work to address the historical injustices created by the War on Drugs and its disproportionate impact on communities of color.

Research conducted by the ACLU has found that legalization on its own does not address racial disparities in enforcement. For this reason, the task force recommended that specific policies be implemented to prevent racial disparities in enforcement and to ensure equity in the cannabis industry. Moreover, it is vital that the revenue from cannabis dispensaries be devoted to Black and Brown communities historically targeted by the war on marijuana.

People arrested for cannabis in Princeton faced severe collateral consequences, including up to six months in jail, loss of employment and driver’s licenses, and loss of immigration status, financial aid and public housing, among other consequences, which has devastated lives and hurt communities. For this reason, the task force recommended directing cannabis tax revenue and impact fees toward reparative community programs that benefit people who faced the brunt of the war on marijuana. The task force also stressed the importance of issuing policies that would lead to equity in future enforcement of the law and equity in the cannabis industry itself. The people who were harmed by a discriminatory war on marijuana should now be able to benefit from a legalized market both by benefiting from the revenue and being able to enter the industry itself.

For the sake of racial justice, public health, and common-sense good policy, the time has come for Princeton to allow cannabis dispensaries and to do it the right way, with equity at its core. Doing so would allow Princeton to emerge as an active participant, and even potentially a leader, in an important national issue that has deep ramifications for racial and social justice. Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., have legalized cannabis. Forty-three percent of U.S. adults live in a jurisdiction that has legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Ninety-one percent of Americans believe that marijuana should be legal for medical or recreational use. There are thousands of dispensaries currently open across the nation and they have not seen the doomsday scenarios the detractors have painted.

This is the moment for Princeton to shine as an example of smart government that is motivated by the values of equity and justice. The council should follow the recommendations provided by its task force and allow for well-regulated dispensaries to open in Princeton and use the revenue to begin to repair the harm created by decades of a failed and discriminatory war on marijuana in our state and in our town.

Mr. Ofer is a member of the Princeton Cannabis Task Force and is the deputy national policy director at the ACLU.


  1. Here, here! Well stated. Let’s not allow a vocal, reactionary minority to dominate the conversation. If you’re not going to close liquor stores why target dispensaries? The only problem I see is the usual one about parking.

    1. So the BOE and BOH are a “vocal, reactionary minority”? I’d encourage you to show up to some of their meetings to get a better sense of the complexities of the conversation before trying to frame it in troll rhetoric.

    2. Sorry, it’s the CTF who suppose to present both pros and cons of the issue choose to be in line with marijuana advocating groups. Many of those groups are supported by deep pocket cash rich for profit industry. Do you think they care about the future of Princeton? did you receive the radom text message asking you they have CBD gummy? did you see the ADs who promote they give out weeds as gift and not for sell but you need to tip the driver? So you tell me they are just angel who give out stuff for free? Don’t be NAIVE or pretent to everybody will follow the regulation and law. If that is the case, there won’t have high school student weeds issue at all and this would be a perfect word!

  2. What Mr. Ofer most eloquently stated ^^^ … Bravo, well put.

    The shrieking hysteria of the anti-dispensary crowd is beyond pathetic. Dispensaries will be regulated in a manner consistent with alcohol and tobacco products. OF COURSE it won’t be perfect. But if you check with your local liquor store, you’ll see a concerted effort to make sure that the Under-21 set is not served.

    I have yet to see a coherent, rational argument against dispensaries that applies pertinent facts rather than just flinging a ton of excrement against the wall to see what sticks. Arguments about the effect of cannabis on young brains are compelling and would be relevant if cannabis were legal for minors, or if gummies were being sold in the Community Park School cafeteria. Since neither is the case, it is obvious that the anti-dispensary crew is really grasping at straws. It really seems that this is Princeton Puritanism at its worst, or perhaps just a small bunch of people with too much time on their hands and enough money to make a batch of yard signs..

    Mr. Ofer correctly identifies the effect that the failed War On Drugs had on communities of color, and in fact those effects were intentional and deliberate. Dedicating a significant proportion of revenues from dispensaries to “remedy” that (not that it can ever be fully remedied) would be visionary and perhaps a model for other communities to follow.

    Regardless, let’s not let a noisy, self-serving, minuscule minority of Princetonians waste another minute of our time with their cries for attention. Move forward with the Cannabis Task Force plan, and then let’s focus our attention on more pressing concerns.

  3. 1. The overwhelming support for the legalization of cannabis in NJ is by no means a vote in favor of opening a cannabis store in Princeton. Please, don’t represent it as such. I’m happy cannabis is legal in NJ and people who need can order it online or go to the Zen Leaf on rt 1. But I don’t see why we need another store in Princeton.

    2. This leaves racial justice cause as the only other reason given in the op-ed to open cannabis stores in Princeton. Frankly, I feel it should be a separate discussion from the cannabis stores in Princeton. While the cause is good, it’s unclear why opening cannabis stores is the best way to pursue it. To everyone repeating the “liquor store” argument: would you also open another liquor store to promote racial justice?

    If the town feels strongly about it (which is unclear to me) we should a) discuss different ways to do it, from raising taxes to searching for alternative revenue streams b) be very transparent about the expected revenue stream from the potential cannabis stores and how it’s going to be used. So far I saw very little details there.

  4. Addiction and dependency should be discouraged, not encouraged by normalization and mass commercialization. The CTF did not do its due diligence and that laughable 15 page report written by Mr. Oafer is not aligned with Princeton voters. A middle schooler could do better research and citations of real peer reviewed studies regarding the harmful effects of cannabis and local recreational dispensaries.

    1. More excrement-throwing. “Repulsive” indeed. It was a well-researched report. You don’t have to agree with it but name calling is not healthy debate.

    2. Abominable might be a more narrow and focused definition of what Big Pot is attempting here in Princeton.

  5. Is the real problem of the War on Drugs the drugs or racially targeted policing, police brutality and a criminal justice system that needs to be fixed? Promoting commercialization of marijuana consumption seems to be a convoluted approach to address the latter. What does commercialization of marijuana consumption do to promote social justice that decriminalization doesn’t?

  6. Is the real problem of the War on Drugs the drugs or racially targeted policing, police brutality and a criminal justice system that needs to be fixed? Promoting commercialization of marijuana consumption seems to be a convoluted approach to address the latter. What does commercialization of marijuana consumption do to promote social justice that decriminalization doesn’t?

  7. The Princeton way – Create a committee or task force and stack it full of people who already agree on a particular outcome, people who have a stake in the outcome such as people who consult for the cannabis industry and people who want to open a cannabis shop in Princeton themselves, rich people with doctorates and MBAs and not the Black and Brown people used to justify the outcome. Then be shocked, just shocked, when there is in uproar about the recommendations. It’s not a tiny minority speaking out. Several hundred people have signed a petition opposing cannabis businesses in Princeton. When the same number sign a petition for a one-way Witherspoon Street or a dog park, it is heralded as a mandate to do something. But since this doesn’t fit with what the council wants, all of a sudden it is not a legitimate petition. Of course this council doesn’t care what residents want because it is ruled by a small group who run unopposed in elections, so there is no accountability to the residents who pay the high taxes. Time for a recall or a new government.

  8. Unlike most decisions the Princeton Council has to make, it has clear evidence of the wishes of the community in the 75% vote in favor of legalizing cannabis. Those who feel negatively about cannabis or who believe its effects warrant continued prohibition voted against it. They may feel strongly and they may be well-organized, but they do not represent the majority.

    I second Mr. Ofer’s letter. This is a chance for Princeton to show leadership instead of retreating behind misinformation and outdated stigmas associated with cannabis use. Those views to not reflect the character and culture of this town.

      1. A vote to legalize was a vote to make it legal and available commercially to adults. What else would “legalize” mean?

        1. Thanks for asking. Consider the wide range of things that are legal or decriminalized, and then consider the varying ways they are commercialized and marketed depending upon their places in and their impacts on society. Compare, say, pornography with bubble tea. Not all legal products are the same. For cannabis, the delivery business will make it commercially available to adults without running the risk of creating establishments that are already earmarked for future on-site consumption only steps away from thousands of university students and in a town that is surrounded by municipalities that have already voted down retail cannabis locations. No one is contesting making it available to adults; they’re contesting how it is being made available to adults and the impact that this form of availability can have on the community. Many of us that voted in favor of legalization, in fact, voted to end prohibition, but then it wasn’t a multiple choice ballot, and instead it was a referendum informed by a blossoming cannabis industry and its multi-million dollar lobby. If you found the exploitation of marginalized communities through policing for drug violations harmful, just wait until you hear about what tobacco companies resorted to for decades to suppress research results on its product while people continued to smoke their ways into cancer. Do companies like Monsanto or Philip Morris give you a warm and reassuring feeling when it comes to cannabis? Hope so, because they’re already making inroads into the industry and all with no meaningful regulatory agency to keep them in check.

        2. what’s your logic? there is a lot of things that are legal and have even been protected by the constitution amendment. such as … while it doesn’t mean we need all of those stores in Princeton. The New Jersey’s referendum is kind of camouflaged some people’s real goals with a progress word which win people’s support. While their Cannabis team’s website already shows what’s their real purpose for that referendum. But they can no longer cheat on us. Just think of this, if more than 60% vote approve it, why do more than 50% of our surrounding towns not allow open a marijuana store? the number doesn’t match, right?

      2. Just want to make sure you are aware of the clear commercialization text of Public Question 1 that was overwhelmingly approved by voters. Direct quote: “The State commission created to oversee the State’s medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market.” As is obvious, “cannabis market” is commercialization. Further text from PQ1: “Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax.” Equally obvious, “[c]annabis products” is commercialization text.

        So the statement “Um, the vote was to legalize cannabis, not to commercialize it” is simply false. The voters overwhelmingly approved legalization and commercialization.

        1. I’ll repeat what I said before and point out that not all products are the same. The delivery service is sufficient. Brick and mortar is too much. Contemplate a world of various hues as opposed to extremes. And consider that outside lobbyists and investors are pushing this through.

    1. If the vote to legalize cannabis had been a mandate for retail shops, then why would there even be an option to opt in or out? The fact that it is up to towns to decide whether they want retail cannabis establishments or not shows that the vote was in no way a blanket endorsement of cannabis retail across the state. Put it to the local voters in a referendum. If cannabis advocates are so sure people overwhelmingly want cannabis dispensaries in town then they shouldn’t be afraid of a vote.

  9. Please list at least 10 statistically sound studies cited in the CTF report supporting why Princeton needs three recreational pot shops. Unsupported data on a chart generated by CTF members (who also work in the cannabis industry and stand to profit from pot shops) is not well researched data.

    Like the Cannabis Task Force, the report is biased.

    1. No, they don’t have it, and they can’t even provide it till today. They think they will just stick this into Princeton residents’ throats, but they were wrong. All their flaw was pointed out by the local people. They can’t fool us. What CTF does is a very bad model for democracy, and they are damaging the democracy by doing a poor job.

  10. A town of Princetoners does not project a positive brand for Princeton no matter how you spin it.

    Princeton University students created art with condoms. Is that the culture you are hoping for? We are headed that way.

  11. Mr. Ofer’s op-ed implies, without directly stating, that having a representative on the CTF is the same as endorsement of its report. This is not accurate. For example, while the Board of Health had a representative, the full CTF report was not shared with the BOH for its consideration prior to its completion. As the BOH has held two full meetings (2/8, 3/8) on the topic of health effects of cannabis on the population of Princeton, perhaps Mr. Ofer would consider reviewing the extensive background documents created for those meetings and on the BOH meeting page.

    Similarly, the Board of Education voted post-release of the CTF on its (the BOE’s) differences with certain portions of the report, as well as going further regarding recommendations on how to use any generated funds for prevention and action to reduce potential harms.

    Both the BOH (nominated and approved by Mayor & Council) and the BOE (independently elected) represent independent advice to the Municipality and Council in this discussion, rather than merely ‘vocal groups’, a phrase that seems intended to diminish any other views. Those views should be considered in any future action on this issue.

  12. Stop hiding behind the black and brown communities in the name of social justice to bring Big Pot to Princeton. Addiction is not welcome in any part of town.

    1. Addiction already exists in town. Live downtown and you will see it. The drug handoffs/sales, the funny smells that are not cannabis. This is a town full of social issues such as drugs and alcohol abuse and it is constantly hidden in plain sight. Sit on a bench downtown for a long period of time and you will see the same characters orbiting around, shaking hands of seemingly random people (drug handoffs). If you live downtown you’ll occasionally get a person knocking on your door who has the wrong address, cash in their hands. You then see them go to a neighboring house and leave a minute later. You smell the burnt plastic and cat urine smell (drugs far more dangerous in every way that cannabis). By the way the police have known about some of these things for years and turn a blind eye. Renters who complain are told to move and not call them anymore (happened to me). Youth and out owners were hassled by police and constantly caught. Local dealers with politically important local families ignored.

  13. No, Princeton needs to pump the brakes here. As a town, we can make the bold statement that we’re capable of comprehending more subtle alternatives between prohibition and over-excited market expansion propelled forward by lobbying interests and other groups funded by venture capitalists. We can send the message that liberation and liberalization are not the same thing. After Princeton’s “yes” to legalization, its “no” is to frenetic commercialization.

    For the CTF’s recommendation to look like something other than a hurried gift to the cannabis industry shepherded through a committee stacked with advocates, it would need to delve more deeply into the actual impact of the types of programs the CTF proposes to fund with the 2% revenues. It would need to quantify the costs to the town and its residents and propose solutions to this additional burden. It would need to reconsider the CTFs refusal to work more closely with Princeton Public Schools in reconsideration of the district’s demonstrative roles in actually working, day-to-day, already with some of the communities impacted by these iniquities. It would seek to address the concerns of the Princeton Board of Education, of the Board of Health, and of a number of other community members and their representatives rather than to dismiss them as a “loud minority,” when objectively speaking, they are not a minority.

    And certainly, the CTF would need to remove from its membership the lobbyists and advocates associated with the Cannabis Advisory Group, which is more accurately an _advocacy_ group—one that touts on its website “robust cannabis markets,” and which charges investors and donors thousands of dollars to attend country-club, golf-course networking luncheons. When partial lobbyists and consultants craft policy in a deliberative body it is not representative governance; it’s cronyism.

    Finally, the CTF report would need to really dig in and recognize there are these and other civil rights up for grabs here, and it would have to address the alarmingly inadequate consumer protections afforded by a NJ state regulatory commission designed and staffed to promote sale and use rather than to regulate it.

  14. Definitely, ending prohibition was the right thing to do.

    For far too long, the criminalization of drug users has complicated the work of those genuinely qualified medical and public health professionals appropriately trained to address substance abuse issues. Your data illustrate what is a widely accepted and uncontroversial reality: that these laws were used to target communities of color that—let’s please keep the bigger picture in focus—were, and continue to be, marginalized through a host of other and more vastly impactful laws and institutions.

    A more complete assessment of the possibility of retail cannabis stores in Princeton having the impact you describe would need to consider how, now in the wake of prohibition, the disparities in access to health care and, especially, mental health care or treatment for substance abuse, continue to disproportionately impact some more than others.

    It’s dumbfounding that there are more cannabis advocates and lobbyists on the CTF than addiction or public health specialists. But since there aren’t, it’s important to remind everyone that a few stints in a rehabilitation clinic will cost a family as much as a college education in some states. And that’s just taking into the consideration the crass metric of dollars as an index of the impact and trauma on an individual and their family. Really the most convincing statement the CTF could make in support of its proposals would be to levy more than 2% and to commit it all to funding drug rehabilitation, as well as to opening as many clinics as stores in Princeton. That would send the right message. After all, so much of the CTFs proposal is leveraged—albeit incorrectly—on making a lateral shift from black-market buyers to, now, legal dispensary customers, so why not make the similar lateral shift between those self-medicating for mental health issues to patients getting appropriate medical treatment and addiction recovery. That’s the glaring iniquity that remains despite the end to prohibition.

    But then, there just aren’t the same kinds of investors pushing for treatment as for there are for consumption… yet.

  15. Udi Ofer, stop pretending the vote to legalize is the same as the desire to open up commercial dispensaries in Princeton near schools. We are aware you have also proposed defunding police, another extreme cause not supported by the majority of voters. All the surveys and polls conducted thus far (Next Door and another local publication) have indicated the majority of Princeton residents oppose retail dispensaries in town. Stop lobbying for your narrowly focused special interest group and start listening to the people in town, the Princeton Public school Board of Education (who opposes dispensaries), and the Princeton Board of Health (who opposes dispensaries). Retail dispensaries are not the wish of the majority of residents in town. The town council should pick a cause that unites the town, rather than this one, which is incredibly divisive and not representative of the town.

    1. There are already liquor stores and liquor selling businesses several hundred feet from several schools in town. Where is the uproar for that? Where is the concern? Have those businesses contributed to alcohol sue for our students? You cannot enter a dispensary without being 21 and they even have more safeguards in place than a liquor store. You have underage teens walking around Princeton openly discussing drinking and how they obtain alcohol in town. Sit around downtown and listen.

  16. NJ Black Caucus voted for decriminalization not legalization. Did you know that Senators Ronald Rice, Nia Gill and the NJ Black Caucus fought very hard for decriminalization? But the Cannabis industry apparatus and lobbyists worked hard to suppress decriminalization and drive a legalization/commercialization outcome for NJ. Yet the Cannabis industry apparatus and the ACLU still has the temerity to claim social justice outcomes. Where do you see social justice goals articulated in pubic traded Cannabis companies such as: https://www.4frontventures.com/? These are profit driven companies who could care less about social justice. If Princeton wants to move the needle on social justice, let’s implement programs that lift people up. I would be willing to take a tax increase to fund social justice programs. Please read the history about how NJ Black Caucus fought hard for decriminalization not legalization.

    See the full article here:
    State Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex) named Scutari several times during a speech against the bill, accusing him of pretending to care about social justice while favoring corporations and law firms, and Senate President Steve Sweeney of holding up decriminalization legislation because it might jeopardize votes on legalization. “I’m not going to be held hostage anymore because of another senator,” Rice said.

    And here: https://www.politico.com/states/new-jersey/story/2020/12/17/3-years-and-1-shouting-match-later-new-jersey-lawmakers-pass-cannabis-legalization-1348273
    Shortly after moving the bill to the floor with an emotional speech meant to cap his years-long legalization effort, Sen. Nicholas Scutari, the lead sponsor, got into a shouting match with Sen. Ron Rice (D-Essex), head of the Legislative Black Caucus and a cannabis opponent, over who had done more (or less) for disadvantaged communities. Sen. Nia Gill, another Essex County Democrat who’s also a member of the Black caucus, piled on, claiming Scutari didn’t deserve to “take a bow” for passing a measure that’s typically been framed by arguments relating to racial equity and the ravages of the war on drugs.

    Assembly passes legislation to decriminalize cannabis; Senate fate remains uncertain, by POLITICO’s Sam Sutton: One of the chamber’s leading proponents of legalizing cannabis said he’d be reluctant to support any decriminalization measure less than five months before voters are scheduled to vote on a ballot question that would pave the way for recreational sales. “I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize outright legalization,” Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) said in an interview Thursday afternoon.

    1. that’s a suprise. CTF has so many conflict of interest involved in this temp organization. Sad that they represent Priceton.

  17. Please list the pages of the CTF report where we can find the statements and studies by the Princeton Police, the Princeton Board of Education, the Princeton Board of Health and The Corner House. We would like to be informed as much as possible about the impact of recreational pot shops considering that three dispensaries will be here to stay and may have an impact on Princeton and residents.

    We are especially interested in how recreational pot shops have affected other New Jersey towns over the past two or more years since these shops will be permanent. It is good to learn from the mistakes of others before experimenting on your own town, residents and children. Please list the facts why all of the listed Princeton departments have determined that recreational shops are beneficial to Princeton.

    Which pages on page 1-15 can I find this extremely important information.

      1. Why isn’t this in the CTF report??? Alarming that public health is not a concern by Princeton Town Council and the Mayor. I am VERY concerned about this being pushed through without looking at the harms to public health for underage and over 21 also. And what about the senior citizens? Did you know that cannabis users require more anesthesia? Or that cannabis causes changes to you heart? And the very real dangers of missing cannabis with real FDA approved medications.

        Are you going to rely on an ex-convict budtender working in a dispensary selling product to profit to inform you about dangerous interactions?

        This is just crazy. I can believe this is happening in Princeton. This is the opposite of progress.

        I am opposed.

    1. How can a report include the effect of recreational shops when there are no recreational shops only medical dispensaries right now?

  18. @princeton social experiment you won’t find any of that data in the CTF report. The CTF report was completely devoid of reports from American Pediatrics Association, CDC, Surgeon General, BOH, BOE. See Surgeon General’s message here:


    The Surgeon General’s Warning on Marijuana
    The Surgeon General of the Public Health Service has issued the following warning on marijuana:

    Marijuana use is a major public health problem in the United States. In the past 20 years, its’ use has increased 30-fold; it is estimated that more than a quarter of the American population has used it. The age at which persons first use marijuana has decreased gradually to the junior high school years. Until recently, nearly 11% of high school seniors used it, and although that figure has declined to 7%, its daily use still exceeds that of alcohol; more high school seniors use marijuana than smoke cigarettes. In a recent study, 32% of those surveyed had used marijuana during the previous 30 days, while 25% had smoked tobacco.

    On March 24, 1982, the Department of Health and Human Services submitted to Congress a report reviewing the consequences of marijuana use. Marijuana and Health, 1982, ninth in a series, is primarily based on two recently conducted, comprehensive, scientific reviews by the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the Canadian Addiction Research Foundation, and the World Health Organization (WHO). Both independent reviews corroborate the Public Health Service’s findings of health hazards associated with marijuana use: Acute intoxication with marijuana interferes with many aspects of mental functioning and has serious, acute effects on perception and skilled performance, such as driving and other complex tasks involving judgement or fine motor skills.

    Among the known or suspected chronic effects of marijuana are:

    short-term memory impairment and slowness of learning.

    impaired lung function similar to that found in cigarette smokers. Indications are that more serious effects, such as cancer and other lung disease, follow extended use.

    decreased sperm count and sperm motility.

    interference with ovulation and pre-natal development.

    impaired immune response.

    possible adverse effects on heart function.

    by-products of marijuana remaining in body fat for several weeks, with unknown consequences. The storage of these by-products increases the possibilities for chronic, as well as residual, effects on performance, even after the acute reaction to the drug has worn off. Of special concern are the long-term developmental effects in

    children and adolescents, who are particularly vulnerable to the drug’s behavioral and psychological effects. The “amotivational syndrome,” characterized by a pattern of energy loss, diminished school performance, harmed parental relationships, and other behavioral disruptions, has been associated with prolonged marijuana use by young persons. Although more research is required, recent national surveys report that 40% of heavy users experience some or all of those symptoms.

    The Public Health Service concludes that marijuana has a broad range of psychological and biological effects, many of which are dangerous and harmful to health, and it supports the major conclusion of the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine.

  19. As a resident who voted for the legalization, my intention was to better focus our limited police resources on more serious crimes which are on the rise here in town not to make the drug more readily available. As a parent, I wish our elected officials can spend more time thinking of ways to reduce drug use which kills over 100,000 people in the US, mostly young and minority. Having more pot shops in town is a step in the wrong direction no matter what noble slogans it is hiding behind.

  20. If the cannabis representative misrepresents what Princeton residents think about having cannabis in town, can we believe any of his statements about the safety of cannabis in town. I voted for cannabis legalization for NJ, but I do not favor cannabis dispensaries in Princeton. I’ve seen too many towns where the cannabis dispensaries become an undesirable area. Route 1 is a much better place for them.

    1. Which towns and where have become “undesirable areas”. Considering there are no recreational dispensaries in the state currently, only medical, this is a bold claim.

  21. I actually have a legit question for Mr. Ofer: how many people’s lives have been positively changed after decriminalization? And a question for CTF: Why have the ACLU’s research and position become the basis for the 15-page term paper for the 7-month cannabis study program?

  22. The task force report failed to take into full account research findings in underage use and lessons learned from other states where marijuana has been legalized. Having retail cannabis stores in town would inevitably facilitate first marijuana use and increase subsequent uses among the teenagers. Marijuana use during adolescence and young adulthood harms the developing brain. As a medical doctor, I am extremely concerned about permitting recreational cannabis stores in Princeton. I also find the task force report cherry picking information and data, which is unfortunately the case with many reports we see these days. I urge the council to listen to all voices in Princeton and not to rush into a decision of permitting recreational cannabis stores in town.

    1. You can walk around Princeton and smell cannabis use daily. Dispensaries do not sell to underage users just as liquor stores aren’t supposed to. We have several liquor business within hundreds of feet of various local schools.

  23. The for profit cannabis conglomerate does not speak for me. I am against drugs being pushed into our town on the backs of people of our community for the profit and greed of the cannabis industry. People can get these products delivered to their front door. I have studied this for more than five years and have narrowed my focus on the harms of local dispensaries. Princeton does not need dispensaries. The majority of residents have joined forces against the greedy cannabis industry.

  24. Just try to put a pot shop or drug dealer near my kids or their schools. You will see how loud we can be.

    1. Newsflash, they are already in our schools. A town like Princeton does a great job covering up our social issues. The wealthy don’t have their problems made public. You can easily find drugs all over town. Walk through the university for example. By drugs I mean things far more harmful than cannabis. This is a sheltered, enclosed community that is in complete denial as to what actually goes on here behind closed doors and have it gets away with it through wealth, social status, politics etc.

  25. The Mayor and Council tells us last summer that they Opt Out of dispensaries and now they try to sneak an Opt In for Princeton? A vote for compassionate use and decriminalization is not a vote for dispensaries and commercialization in our town. Council needs to be aligned with residents for the betterment of Princeton and not businesses and lobbyists for the betterment of their bank accounts.

  26. The opinion of the ACLU is more important then the taxpaying Princeton residents? I hope mayor and council disagree.

  27. Why didn’t the Mayor and Council appoint a representative from the Asian community since they appointed an ACLU rep and several cannabis industry reps? Asians are 17 percent of the Princeton community and don’t get appointed representation like Mr. Ofer??!! Biased much? I am Asian, I am against pot shops, I oppose this initiative and demand proper representation.

  28. If the ACLU was so interested in social justice, why didn’t it speak out more loudly and clearly when a group of NJ legislators and the NJ Black Caucus tried to pass bills to decriminalize pot rather than continue to push to legalize full scale commercialization? Instead, the ACLU remained linked arm in arm with the pot lobby. Here’s the answer: The goal of legalization was NEVER social justice, not even in part.The single goal of legalization has always been to open up a new market in NJ for Cannabis industry profit. @Udi if you are so interested in social justice, why tie outcomes to the sale of a product? Why don’t you walk the talk and make direct funding contributions to social justice initiatives? Why encumber social justice outcomes with the sale of a product? It would be interesting to get some disclosure on how much funding the ACLU get from the Cannabis lobby.

  29. I hope this experience will compel more members of the Asian community to become involved in our local government, both by running for elective office and by volunteering for task forces and commissions. I think we would all benefit. My guess from my experience as a member of Council is that you didn’t apply to be on the Task Force, and my second guess is that no members of the Asian community applied (I could be wrong). This isn’t to blame anyone for a failure to take initiative, but to point out that most likely the Council did its best in making appointments to the Task Force.

    1. Council reached out to appoint a pro pot Princeton University student but did not reach out to the Asian community. And the Daily Princetonian quotes Council Member Eve Niedergang as saying sorry, maybe next time to the Asian community. Biased CTF, biased report and biased council appointments.

  30. The Asian community and their values are ignored in Princeton. We need Asian citizens to run for council and for school board to ensure their perspectives are at the table. Unfortunately, Princeton has shown that their opinions are ignored otherwise.

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