October 20, 2021

Task Force Member Writes in Defense Of Cannabis Dispensaries in Princeton

To the Editor,

I write this letter as a member of the Princeton Cannabis Task Force and, as importantly, a resident of the Princeton community for over 30 years who has raised four children in our town.

Last spring I became aware that our Council was establishing a task force to explore the potential impact that the legalization of cannabis in New Jersey would have on our town. Council was looking for applicants interested in participating in this initiative. I was concerned about the complexity of this issue and the potential consequences it might have, and so I decided to apply for a seat on the committee, considering that this would be the best way to educate myself and address the questions I had.

I sit on the committee with a diverse group of individuals represented by medical professionals, law enforcement, business owners, lawyers, and Princeton University among others, all appointed blind to any personal convictions. I have watched this group work exhaustively to research and share information around the important decision of whether to allow dispensaries in Princeton, including the impact that legalization has had on other states, and the approach that similar towns in New Jersey are taking.

We made the decision to “opt out” of allowing dispensaries to operate in town as the deadline approached, in order to have time to make a fully informed recommendation to Council.

I began this journey on the fence about whether it was the right decision to allow dispensaries in our town. I am not naive about the challenges we face moving forward, but I have come to firmly believe that our best choice is to allow the establishment of dispensaries in Princeton for the overarching reason that this will enable us to take firm control of the “roll out” of the new reality that cannabis is legal in New Jersey.

We will discourage the operation of black market operators in town selling potentially dangerous product. We can award licenses to local, law abiding retailers who care about our town with the stated goal of working toward social reparation and justice. We can control the narrative by educating our youth, adults, and seniors about the safe use of a drug that is legal and will be available by delivery in our town anyway. We can teach our youth about the dangers of underage use on their developing brains, and the consequences of using and driving. We can provide information on medical cannabis to those with mental and physical illness who could greatly benefit from its prescribed use.

Please educate yourself, and challenge misinformation circulating on cannabis legislation and use. Consider that the decision to allow dispensaries in Princeton is the most enlightened approach for our community. Whether you are personally in favor of cannabis or against it, I believe we are better off being proactive on this since legalization has already happened, delivery will be available in Princeton, and licenses are being issued by neighboring towns. Let’s control our own narrative.

Colleen Exter
Hun Road