December 8, 2021

Citing Reasons That Princeton Doesn’t Need Cannabis Dispensaries

To the Editor:

We strongly oppose cannabis dispensaries in Princeton. People have cited data in support or against it. It is helpful. Yet it is not enough. How will it affect daily life in town?

1. Princetonians can Google something like marijuana life insurance/car insurance/health insurance. Insurance companies will charge a higher premium if we started to circle “yes” on anything related to marijuana on their forms. By the way, for those who will be living near dispensaries, or along the road leading there, get ready for homeowner insurance to go up too.

2. Cannabis dispensaries have many unknowns and are too new for Princeton. We should not opt-in in the first place. Simply because it became legal recently does not mean it is good. Being a progressive town does not require us to say yes to anything that is new.

3. Is opening a cannabis dispensary really a sign of social justice in Princeton? It is absurd to think it is. By thinking so, you are labeling people. How do we know certain ethic groups use more cannabis than others? The fact might be opposite to what people think. It is sad and wrong to have way too many cannabis-related arrests target minorities. Legalizing cannabis is a huge victory on that front already, through which such arrests may be eliminated completely. How does opening a dispensary here in Princeton promote the cause more than that?

4. Inclusion: Roughly 17 percent of Princeton’s population are Asians, many of whom are of eastern Asian descent. Anyone with middle school-level education from that region knows horrible effects of opium, which were brought in mainly by Western powers in the 1800s and caused wars. It is a natural source of opioid, which is still considered a restricted substance like marijuana by the DEA. When opium was prevalent, DaYan Guan (Big Smoke House) were everywhere. People went in, paid cash, laid down, and smoked. Fast forward, as one of the Cannabis Task Force (CTF) members further suggested in the November 30 report to town Council, that some type of onsite consumption arrangement will be considered in dispensaries, reminding people from that region of something that is culturally painful and ugly.

5. Some supporters claim benefits of additional tax revenues. This number hasn’t been made available. Any such benefits cannot possibly outweigh potential harms to our children, many of whom are stressed out from the pandemic and lack mature judgment on the usage of drugs. A 2014 study by the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggests that consuming weed as a teenager does lead to brain development issues at a later stage. Easing accessibility by having dispensaries in town will certainly make the matter worse.

For the above reasons, we strongly urge Princeton elected officials to reject recommendations from the one-sided CTF. We praise CTF efforts greatly, but disagree with their recommendations strongly.

Shenwei Zhao
Prospect Avenue

Sara Eby
Red Hill Road

Jiayi Li
Ross Stevenson Circle

Lieping Wang
Braeburn Drive