March 16, 2022

To the Editor:

As Princeton residents and professionals in medical/mental health, we feel it is important to share what we have learned and seen on the job.

I am Sara Popkin, M.D., board certified in adult psychiatry and child and adolescent psychiatry. Adolescents are highly vulnerable to marijuana’s many known adverse effects. Marijuana’s impact on the cognition, behavior, and brain development of adolescents has both immediate and long-term implications, including lasting decline in intelligence measures; academic failure; an increased incidence of psychotic, mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders; an increased risk of motor vehicle accidents; and sexual victimization. Retail cannabis dispensaries in our town, even if restricted to adults, will be associated with a reduction of adolescent’s perception of marijuana’s harmful effects. In turn, this increases rates of adolescent marijuana use and its associated problems. We must educate youth about the significant harm marijuana can inflict on their developing brains. This will be increasingly difficult if they see it being sold on Nassau Street.

I am Matt Bellace, Ph.D in clinical neuropsychology and national youth drug prevention speaker. I travel the country speaking at schools about substance abuse prevention and mental health.  Vaping, especially cannabis, is the number one concern of my clients. As adults, the best thing we can do to reduce teen substance abuse is role model healthy choices. I advocate sharing your natural highs (e.g., running, cooking, meditation) with teens. In addition, we can practice radical honesty. Opening cannabis dispensaries in town will increase the number of people who smoke and walk around.  The stink is pervasive and the message to young people is clear, we allowed it. more

To the Editor:

Princeton’s Cannabis Task Force issued a report recommending that Princeton allow up to three pot shops in our town. What costs would these shops impose on Princeton? The CTF Report does not even consider the question. But the costs would be substantial, including more traffic accidents, more crime, and higher taxes.

Pot shops would bring more drug-impaired drivers to our town, leading to more car accidents. A researcher at MIT, Theodore Caputi, analyzed fatal car crash data in every zip code where recreational pot shops were opened. He found that recreational pot shops increased the rate of fatal car crashes by approximately 6 percent relative to zip codes without dispensaries. Accidents are the leading cause of death for children and young adults — we can all agree that we do not want more fatal accidents in Princeton.

Pot shops would bring more crime to our town. The large amounts of cash and drugs on hand at pot shops make them attractive targets for criminals. Pot shops across the country have suffered an alarming number of armed robberies. In addition to being targets of crime, studies have found that opening pot shops increases property crimes in surrounding neighborhoods (“Marijuana Outlets and Crime in an Era of Changing Marijuana Legislation,” J Primary Prevent (2017); “The Criminogenic Effect of Marijuana Dispensaries in Denver, Colorado,” Justice Evaluation Journal (2019). more

To the Editor:

We need to have a democratic process for proposals affecting Princeton residents and businesses. One such proposal being reviewed by our town Council is whether to grant license to cannabis retail outlets to operate in our town. This is an important issue that will have ramifications to all Princetonians for many years to come. Hence I urge that our town Council embrace a transparent process to ensure all stakeholder groups are represented in the decision-making process. Listed below are some perspectives.

When access increases, so does its use: Legal access to marijuana increases chances of exposure to illegal substance abuse. It is naive to think the kids and youth that come across these pot shops will just ignore their presence. Younger minds are impressionable and will see these retail pot outlets as yet another stamp of approval that it’s safe to consume marijuana.

Starts with pot, ends with catastrophe: Pot shop presence will most likely attract more illegal drug dealing activity around the vicinity with more potent and lethal drugs. Our nation is reeling under an opioid crisis. Provisional data from CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics estimated overdose deaths in the U.S. from opioids increased to 75,673 in the 12-month period ending in April 2021, up from 56,064 the year before. These are a staggering number of lives and families impacted irreversibly. more

To the Editor:

We who teach at Westminster Conservatory noted with approval the Town Topics article of March 2, “Rider Faculty and Students to Protest Outside Board Meeting,” which brought to light some of the challenges faced by our Westminster collegiate counterparts who now teach in Lawrenceville on the Rider campus.

In the final paragraph, however, the author in using the language “since the fall of 2020 … the Princeton campus has stood mostly empty,” betrays her ignorance of the continuing use of the Princeton campus by Westminster Conservatory, the community music school founded in 1970 as a division of Westminster Choir College (WCC). In-person Conservatory activity, involving over one hundred faculty members and nearly one thousand  students, resumed on the WCC campus in the fall of 2021. This activity includes weekly private music lessons, classes, ensemble rehearsals, and performances. Although some Conservatory programs remain virtual and we have not quite returned to pre-COVID levels, to say that the WCC campus is empty is a gross misrepresentation, and devalues the substantial contribution that Westminster Conservatory makes to the quality of life in the greater Princeton area.

Melissa bohl
Head, Wind Department, Westminster Conservatory
Hartley Avenue

Note: Town Topics thanks Melissa Bohl for pointing this out; we regret the misstatement.

To the Editor:

The decision of whether to open retail cannabis dispensaries in Princeton must be based on what’s best for Princeton. Period. Instead, vocal dispensary supporters have come out in force recently to throw mud at opponents. Rumors are being spread about neighbors – like us, involved in the grassroots noretailcannabishere.org movement — who’ve come together against retail dispensaries. They say we reached into our “deep pockets.” We have deep pockets? The U.S. cannabis market is projected to reach $28 billion in sales for 2022 (Headset, April 2021), whereas we have zero to gain from this decision financially. 

Let’s not forget that cannabis legalization was intended to stop punishing people, while pot commercialization makes people money, and some people have made a lot of it.  Meanwhile, please google how very few people were released from jail since cannabis legalization. Money can cloud judgement and distort quality of public information, as observed with the fall of Big Tobacco and Purdue Pharma.  more

To the Editor:

The people have spoken and we want a dog park in Princeton. For the past decade, there have been several attempts to establish a dog park in Princeton. Most recently, we presented at a town Council meeting in November 2021 and the mayor and Council members were all supportive of a dog park.  Now, we need action.

The Princeton Dog Park Alliance recently became an official nonprofit organization, and we have already raised over $1,500 to be used to help pay for the construction and maintenance of a dog park. We ask our fellow dog lovers to join our pack so we can finally see this through. Visit princetondogpark.org to become a member and donate to our cause.

Calvin Chin
President, Princeton Dog Park Alliance
Spruce Street

To the Editor:

It is with considerable incredulity that, as an addiction professional, I view the activity of the Cannabis Task Force and its seemingly intractable position on approving retail outlets in Princeton.  When one considers all the downsides of such a decision, given the knowledge we have about marijuana’s effect on the adolescent brain, the dramatic increase in pediatric emergencies in states that have legalized, increases in drugged driving cases, and a surge in black market activity in those “legalized” states, one can only assume that this task force has fallen, hook, line, and sinker for the marijuana industry’s aggressive marketing efforts to portray marijuana as a benign drug. Their campaign began by creating the myth of marijuana as a medicine and, while it may have beneficial effects for a small portion of the population, the marijuana lobby used this public health masquerade as a stepping-stone to its larger objective — mass commercialization of recreational marijuana.  Make no mistake, the bottom line is the emergence and dominance of the marijuana industry by corporate entities and big tobacco companies.  And this means, by definition, the need to expand markets and capture new customers.  What better market than young people who are clearly the target of the promotion and use of candy-like THC edibles?

The industry has also created a false narrative around “social equity,” suggesting that dispensaries will compensate for past injustices to minorities.  Yet, regarding minority access to the industry, nationally only 2 percent of cannabis businesses have minority ownership.  Even so, what kind of “social equity” advocates for wider availability of a drug that has been proven to reduce cognition and blunt ambition and motivation? more

March 9, 2022

To the Editor:

As a member of the Cannabis Task Force, as well as a former undergraduate and current graduate student at Princeton University, I strive to represent student opinions and highlight voices historically left out of drug policy conversations and considerations. I have spent time with the Department of State Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, Drug Policy Alliance, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, and Cannabis Advisory Group. My intention is not to rally for or against cannabis dispensaries in Princeton — my intention is to ensure that community members are informed and that we recognize how our policy decisions today necessarily impact historical and present injustices.

In recent months, there has been considerable concern regarding the harm of cannabis dispensaries to children. This concern should not be minimized, but it should be contextualized with information — not with fear.

A report in the Journal of Adolescent Health (Coley et al., 2021) recognizes that adolescents are uniquely susceptible to negative repercussions of marijuana use but concludes that there is no evidence of a correlation between legal adult-use markets and teen cannabis use. The American Medical Association (2021) concluded the same. A report in JAMA Pediatrics (Anderson et al., 2019) confirmed various prior research studies finding no evidence that legalization encourages marijuana use among youth. In fact, this report aligns with a separate report in JAMA Pediatrics (Dilley et al., 2019) which concludes that marijuana use among youth likely declines as licensed dispensaries — which require proof of age — make it more difficult for teenagers to obtain marijuana. Other reports confirm that product is not diverted to the underage market (Buller et al., 2016; Fell et al. 2021; Pettinger 2017; Shi and Pacula, 2021). more

To the Editor:

As a Princeton resident and loyal Town Topics reader for more than 20 years, I have always enjoyed browsing the annual summer camp issue. Having recently become a trustee for the Princeton-Blairstown Center (PBC), I notice how many opportunities there are for summer programs for the children of families in our community. But for so many families in communities not far from our own, there are limited resources and options for summer enrichment.

All of us have struggled in various ways as the pandemic has continued for more than two years, but young people from historically marginalized communities have had to face additional challenges as their families and neighbors were hardest hit physically and economically. In many cases, schools in these neighborhoods were closed for more than a year and students did not always have the resources to make the best of their remote learning situation. Their confidence in themselves and the world around them has been shaken and their ability to develop and maintain relationships with peers and adults has faltered. more

To the Editor:

As we await a pandemic “new normal” it may still be unwise to enjoy indoor dining in downtown Princeton for a few more weeks. The Princeton University COVID-19 Dashboard (covid.princeton.edu/dashboard) reports a recent rise in infections on campus starting on February 14. From 250 to 300 undergraduates, 5 percent, tested asymptomatically positive during each of the past three weeks ending March 5. That means that if 11 undergraduates enjoy an indoor dining establishment believing they are uninfected, there is a 50 percent chance that an elderly Princeton residents may place themselves at serious health risk by unmasking.

While Mercer County is seeing the infection rate continuously drop, something seems to have happened on campus three weeks ago leading to a sharp increase in infections. Hopefully the University will be able to control this recent outbreak and go back to being a positive contributor to the community, not a source of disease.

Peter Kramer
Prospect Avenue

To the Editor:

The possibility of cannabis dispensaries appearing in Princeton is fading fast. While local papers reported only weeks ago that the Cannabis Task Force was to recommend up to three dispensaries within the town, that possibility has apparently become upended. While 78 percent of Princetonians voted in November of 2020 to approve legalization in the state of New Jersey, a very vocal group in opposition to dispensaries in Princeton has apparently dominated the discussion at Cannabis Task Force meetings. I have heard that at those meetings upwards of 80 percent of voices are in opposition. Recently, we have all seen mailings from this group in an attempt to drum up support for their position. Overall, this has understandably created a lot of pressure on town leadership who might be reluctant to move ahead with dispensaries unless they hear more of a voice from people who heretofore have considered dispensaries in town a done deal.

I won’t reiterate the arguments on both sides. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what the evidence is. It doesn’t matter that marijuana was legalized in New Jersey. It doesn’t matter what the experience has been in states such as Colorado where recreational marijuana was legalized 10 years ago. It doesn’t matter that alcohol, with dispensaries in Princeton numbering in the double digits, accounts for much more morbidity and hospitalizations than marijuana. What matters is that the town Council also hears in a significant way from Princetonians in favor of dispensaries. They need to hear from the mostly “silent majority” who voted to legalize marijuana. This means writing letters to papers like this, writing to our Council members (princetonnj.gov/872/Mayor-Council), and showing up at the Council meeting on March 29 to advocate for this position. more

To the Editor:

In last week’s Town Topics, a group of letter writers argued that town Council should use “current scientific data that proves there are too many dangers and unknowns to opt-in” to cannabis dispensaries [“Opting Out of Cannabis Dispensaries is Not Prohibition,” Mailbox, March 2]. But in their letter they misrepresent the data they cite.

Specifically, they write that a January 2021 study by the NIH found that “recreational marijuana legalization and greater retail availability of recreational marijuana and alcohol were positively associated with alcohol and marijuana co-use among adolescents.”

Firstly, to clarify, the study, published in the journal Substance Use and Abuse, was funded by the NIH but not conducted by the NIH. It was also specific to one state and one age group, using data from Oregon in 2010-2015 (before legalization) compared with 2016-2018 (post legalization).

What was found? The researchers state, “There was an overall downward trend in the prevalence of past-30-day alcohol and marijuana co-use from 2010 to 2018.” In one of their regression models they found a small increase (1 percent) in past 30-day alcohol and marijuana co-use in areas with high outlet density. This was only true in 2016, not 2018 — suggesting a temporary increase. more

To the Editor:

Now is the time to create a well-regulated and intentional cannabis industry in Princeton. Our entire community, especially our children, will benefit from a thoughtfully considered cannabis dispensary in our beautiful town. I write this letter as a prospective cannabis business owner seeking to bring the therapeutic benefits of cannabis to my community.

I am a contributing member of our society: I am a wife, a mother of two, and a trained neuroscientist and educator. I earned my undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from Princeton University. Importantly, I also personally know the power of cannabis having used cannabis off and on for 20+ years to supplement antidepressants and ADHD meds taken since I was a teen. 

Our endogenous cannabinoid system brings balance and homeostasis to most systems in our bodies. Consuming cannabis can often be helpful to rebalance our systems. Indeed, our earliest medical texts from China and India write of the many ailments that cannabis can treat, and more recent medical use has corroborated many of these uses. Cannabis contains a complex assortment of compounds that act on our brains and bodies. Different plant strains, extraction techniques, and methods of consumption can have or result in different combinations of bio-active compounds. Some combinations work better for some and others for others. Finding the optimal match is an art and science best suited to personalized, in-person assistance and care.  more

To the Editor:

We feel the need to respond to Richard Gulardo’s letter in a recent Town Topics [“Long Held ‘Rule’ of Pedestrian Right of Way in Town Needs to Be Addressed,” Mailbox, February 23]. It is difficult to understand his objections to the continuation of the “rule” that pedestrians have the right of way “not only at intersections, but at many other points along Nassau Street or Witherspoon Street.”

We would like to point out that motor vehicle laws establishing pedestrian right-of-way are enacted at the state level, and Princeton does not have the authority to change these laws. Since 2010 New Jersey state law has required that drivers must stop and remained stopped for pedestrians in marked crosswalks and yield to them in unmarked crosswalks, which exist by definition at every intersection (N.J.S.A. 39:4-36). Beginning March 1 the new NJ Safe Passing Law requires drivers to leave a safe zone — minimum 4 feet — when passing roadway users such as pedestrians, cyclists, and wheelchair users. When not possible to pass safely, motorists should slow to 25 mph and be prepared to stop until it is safe to pass with sufficient clearance.

Is Mr. Gulardo suggesting that pedestrians currently have, or think they have the right of way when crossing mid-block, or against a traffic light? If so, that is simply wrong, and we strongly condemn such behavior by pedestrians.  more

March 2, 2022

To the Editor:

Beautiful music, dancing, and a dynamic and powerful sermon were part of the February 27 Black History Month celebration at the First Baptist Church of Princeton. Entitled “Let My Work Speak for Me,” the occasion paid tribute to community leaders. The church was filled with family and well-wishers gathered to honor the efforts of individuals and programs which have enriched and enhanced the lives of others.

Each awardee was introduced by another community activist. Thomas Parker, chair, Princeton Civil Rights Commission, introduced Henry “Hank” Pannell, a longtime member and leading voice of the Princeton Housing Authority; Leticia Fraga, Princeton Council president, recognized the YMCA’s Princeton Young Achievers Program and Mike Roseborough of the Accept Compete Excel program; Princeton Councilmember Leighton Newlin presented an award to former Princeton Councilmember Lance Liverman; Mayor Mark Freda honored Larry and Fern Spruill, founders of Committed and Faithful Princetonians, which mentors youth; and Shirley Satterfield, president of the Witherspoon-Jackson Historical and Cultural Society, recognized business leader Jimmy Mack.

This celebration of the leadership and outstanding contributions of Princeton residents was a joyful and memorable community event and I was glad I was there. 

Linda Sipprelle
Victoria News

To the Editor:

Princeton Mobile Food Pantry (PMFP) is a 501(c)3 organization that provides food and other support to the under-resourced members of the Princeton community. Our focus is to support families with children in the Princeton Public Schools. PMFP currently serves over 180 families (more than 900 individuals) by providing food delivery twice per month.

The need in our community continues to grow. There are many opportunities to help at the Princeton Mobile Food Pantry. Our volunteers pack grocery bags filled with fresh produce and proteins and deliver the groceries directly to our neighbors twice a month. In addition, PMFP has opportunities for volunteers to organize neighborhood drives to help supplement the pantry; school-led drives for hygiene products, back to school items, and summer gear; and partnerships with local businesses to donate goods and/or services. If you are part of a business or organization that can help, or if you are interested in donating or volunteering and becoming a part of our village, please visit PMFPantry.org.  more

To the Editor:

Several months ago a detailed presentation to the Princeton Council elicited enthusiasm from the entire Council and many local dog owners. In order to speed the construction of proper fencing and signage for a future dog park, the Princeton Dog Park Alliance (an official nonprofit organization) was formed in order to raise seed money to encourage the construction of these desperately needed parks.

Please visit princetondogpark.org to join and donate to the future of dog parks in Princeton.

Bruce, Barbara, and Geno Berger
Franklin Avenue

To the Editor:

It has been six months since the tragic death of Pinghua Xu, who was fatally struck by a vehicle and died while crossing Rosedale Road at the Greenway Meadows and Johnson Park School intersection. My heart goes out to Pinghua Xu and his family. What’s even more heartbreaking is that this intersection has been an area of concern for many, many years and if only proper safety measures were put in place when concerns were first raised, maybe Mr. Xu would still be alive today. Before another accident happens, we urge the municipal and county officials to take action and address the safety issue at this intersection immediately.

The Rosedale intersection has been under scrutiny since as far back as 1999 when then-Princeton Township Mayor Phyllis Marchand met with Johnson Park’s principal and the Parent Teacher Organization to discuss the dangers of the intersection. In 2016, the intersection was flagged as an area of concern in the New Jersey Safe Routes to School Report. In 2021, we sadly lost a life proving just how dangerous this intersection really is. It is now 2022 and no significant improvements have been made to make the intersection safe. This spans over 20 years. That is far too long. Time is up and we need a solution now.

We believe installing a traffic signal is the best solution. We request for traffic calming measures to be put in place in the meantime. We implore the municipal and county representatives to work together and act now. Please protect our children, elderly, and all pedestrians that use that crosswalk. We have two children at Johnson Park, and their grandmother walks the same path Mr. Xu did. She saw him often on her daily walks. We need to do better to ensure the safety of all.

Pia Ahn
Audubon Lane

To the Editor:

Those in favor of retail cannabis dispensaries in Princeton constantly refer to those of us against them as being stuck in the old mindset about drugs. The reality is, many of those against dispensaries voted to legalize marijuana because they are against the “war on drugs” era of incarceration for minor possession and usage. That’s quite a contemporary opinion, don’t you think? Interestingly, many of the liberals who argue that because cannabis is now legal it should be readily sold in stores everywhere are the very same people that argue that though gun ownership is legal, guns should be very hard to get. We’re not arguing in favor of guns, but we are trying to make the point that legalization and retail sales are not directly linked. Legalization means those that want to enjoy small amounts of cannabis can without the risk of jailtime.

Another argument by pro-dispensary commentators is teens are already using it, so it’d be best if we get a cleaner product in town. These very same people also argue there are laws in place to prevent cannabis sales or use by anyone under age 21. Hmmm, really? Either we’re bringing in cannabis stores to flush out the illegal pot currently being sold to minors and hope it gets in their hands or we’re going to do all we can to ensure the cannabis sold in Princeton doesn’t get into the hands of minors. We can’t have both.

The fact that many Princeton teens already use marijuana is why we should not open dispensaries. Despite what the cannabis industry wants you to believe, studies show that today (not just decades ago) marijuana damages the developing brain. Additionally, the normalizing of marijuana through retail stores was proven in a January 2021 study by the NIH that “recreational marijuana legalization and greater retail availability of recreational marijuana and alcohol were positively associated with alcohol and marijuana co-use among adolescents, and with beliefs favorable to alcohol and marijuana use.” Stores, in our town of over 20 educational institutions, put our teens at more risk. more

To the Editor:

Since those in favor of a marijuana dispensary are not an organized group mass mailing residents as are the NIMBYs in Princeton and surrounding locales, I thought I could at least write to the paper and express my support of Kip Berman’s letter [“Cannabis Dispensaries Shouldn’t Be Treated Any Different Than Liquor Stores,” Mailbox, February 9] recommending them.

I also have a suggestion for a location, which is the Harrison Street Shopping Center. I have no idea how the owners would view this, but they certainly could use the rent. Also, the recent departure of the liquor store seems to create an opening, since, like Kip Berman, I believe retail pot should be managed like liquor.

Douglas Blair
Patton Avenue

To the Editor:

This letter is written to support the creation of a downtown Special Improvement District (SID).  As a career economic developer, a former town level deputy mayor, and a longtime “Tiger Tourist,” it is worth sharing some observations.       

It is no accident that almost every downtown on the East Coast has a SID or a BID (Business Improvement District). SIDs can deliver whatever a town wants such as special events, concerts, downtown marketing, small business counseling, and town level problem-solving/advocacy. The alternative model of managing a downtown through a combination of the Chamber, Merchants Association, and the town will be less effective than a “one-stop” SID.

Questions about reasonable SID fees are valid and deserve consensus. But this legitimate concern should include the larger tax benefit of how a vibrant downtown strengthens residential sales values, which supports the total tax base and impacts the town tax rate. Live, work, play, and stay are all connected. more

February 23, 2022

To the Editor:

Like many others, the number of pedestrians struck by cars in town was a surprise to me, but should it be? If you regularly drive through town, as I do, it has become impossible to do so without running into significant congestion, not only at intersections but at many other points along Nassau Street or Witherspoon Street. The all-pedestrian system may help, but I believe the real problem is the idea and long held “rule” of pedestrian right of way in town. This needs to be addressed.

Princeton has grown very significantly in the last 25 years since I’ve lived here, and the idea that pedestrians can dictate and control the flow of car traffic in Princeton in 2022 is simply living in the past and dangerous. Princeton attracts many drivers from all over the state and country, partially because of the University but also because the town has become a “destination” for New York and Philly residents. The idea that pedestrians can leisurely stroll across the busy downtown streets, often without looking or even considering automobile traffic around them, is a significant part of the problem. The “I have the right of way” attitude does not protect you from vehicles driven by non-residents who may not be familiar with local rules, or even drivers who are stuck at intersections with traffic lights and then a line of pedestrians paying no attention to the traffic congestion around them.  more

To the Editor:

Many have heard about the Cannabis Task Force’s (CTF) recommendations to Princeton Council to allow retail marijuana dispensaries as close as 200 feet to schools, with no setbacks required for houses of worship, drug treatment centers, playgrounds, or child care centers. There have been several unusual and discomforting aspects associated with the CTF’s process.

First, the CTF began by assuming Princeton residents want retail recreational cannabis dispensaries, simply citing a much different vote: the New Jersey vote to decriminalize. However, as Princeton voters we did not vote to put marijuana dispensaries a one-minute walk from our schools and promote their usage in town. Why would Princeton be an outlier vs. the 71 percent of other N.J. municipalities that have opted out of this program? Further, several democratic tools (polls, surveys, and petitions) are showing Princeton voters want the opposite. A NextDoor poll with over 350 participants is showing the majority oppose dispensaries in town. A petition on Change.org against dispensaries in Princeton now has over 800 signatures, having grown consistently over time. A poll in Princeton Perspectives indicated 60 percent oppose dispensaries in Princeton.

Second, the CTF recommendations were written by a group of pro-cannabis participants, including several individuals with state and national roles promoting the cannabis industry. Three members of the six on town Council have taken part, seemingly creating a situation where the vote was determined before it even reached the Council. Shouldn’t the Council take extra care to avoid the appearance of impropriety? Would we invite the American Petroleum Institute to help our town decide if we can drill oil wells and dictate how close to our schools we can drill?  more

To the Editor:

In 2005, I was part of the discussions with then Municipal Administrator Bob Bruschi on creating a Special Improvement District (SID) for Princeton. Unfortunately that effort didn’t get off the ground, and here we are 17 years later, looking at doing this. But, this time, I believe we have the consensus and impetus to move forward.

A Special Improvement District for our town is not an added bureaucratic layer. It is a mechanism for the business community to come together, to work in partnership with one another and to have a private-public partnership with the municipality. Aptly named, the Princeton Business Partnership (the proposed name for the SID) will do just that, build partnership throughout our community. As we have seen through these challenging times the need for better communication and a mechanism for management is clear — we struggled through without a strong voice for the businesses in town. Now we have the opportunity to emerge much stronger by working together to improve our town and enhance our vitality.

SIDs are designed to boost and reinforce economic enhancement of commercial areas by providing a range of focused services customized to local needs in addition to standard municipal services. No, the SID is not intended or allowed to replace municipal services. The SID dollars will be used to enhance existing services or create new ones.  more

February 16, 2022

To the Editor:

Exaggerated representations of the harms of cannabis for nearly a century continue to distort the public’s perceptions to this day. They led to a “war on drugs” with harsh penalties in the 1970s. Those penalties led to high levels of incarceration, especially for people of color, and many other harms. Making cannabis illegal for so many decades has been entirely counterproductive. This has at last been recognized by our state with its recent legalization of this drug following approval by an overwhelming majority in the state referendum. 

In order for legalization to be effective, it is necessary to provide sale of the drug under controlled conditions and to prevent its purchase by minors. However, the objections to such sales which have been raised in our town are based on a poor rationale. 

Cannabis is now legal. In the referendum, an even larger majority in Princeton voted for legalization than in the state as a whole. It is neither reasonable nor effective for the minority who opposed that to try to put up barriers to sales. Such barriers would not prevent use by minors — they would merely benefit the continuation of illegal sales. 

The reality is that Princeton’s children can readily buy illegal cannabis at school at present. That cannabis is totally unregulated and may contain harmful additives. Prohibiting dispensaries in the town for adults will not facilitate students’ access to the drug. Instead, the presence of legal dispensaries will reduce the prevalence of illegal supplies in town and so actually decrease illegal use by minors.  more