October 6, 2021

Allow Retail Cannabis Sales in Town On a Small Scale with Local Owners

To the Editor:

I support the efforts of the Cannabis Task Force (CTF) to propose whether Princeton should allow any one of the six possible cannabis licenses in our town. While I believe the market will decide that Princeton is not well suited for licensed activities like cultivation and manufacturing (which require scale to be financially viable), I see no valid argument against allowing retail sales or delivery services.

The cannabis debate is filled with misinformation, hearsay, and hysteria on the supposed evils of this product. Some of the comments I’ve read could have come from the script of the infamous propaganda film of the late 1930s, Reefer Madness. Medicinal use of cannabis has been legal in New Jersey and elsewhere for several years and I have seen no reports of impacts on children, and have heard of no deteriorating neighborhoods in those towns hosting dispensaries. Yet opponents of retail sales in Princeton cite these and other negative factors as reasons for forbidding such activities in our town.

Let’s be realistic, Princeton does not have the infrastructure (parking, traffic flow, large un(der) developed parcels of land) to support large retail cannabis operations. Let those outfits operate in other towns along Route 1 like the newly opened Zen Leaf in Lawrence, currently medicinal only, but planning for adult use as well. Instead, we should facilitate access to the market by small, local operators with a residency requirement for the owners. Such boutiques could be located within any of the zones the CTF is considering but might be especially useful if accessible by foot traffic. In fact, a small shop or shops somewhere in the business districts (central, Jugtown, Witherspoon) could discourage out of town consumers while providing access to local residents who choose to use these products.

Some parents have based their objections on the potential harm to children. But harmed in what way? We have stores in town selling liquor and cigars and cigarettes, and I have not heard of parents protesting their presence. Children walk by these stores every day and seemingly ignore them. I suggest they would do the same with a cannabis shop.

So let’s have a fact-based discussion on the topic, then let’s move to permit retail cannabis sales in Princeton on a small scale with local owners and sited such that walk-up customers would be the norm.

Carl Cavallaro
Forester Drive