In Thursday’s Cannabis Task Force (CTF) Economic & Community Impact subgroup meeting, the Princeton Shopping Center was pulled from consideration as a potential dispensary zone because the owner was not interested in leasing to a dispensary.
There are still six zones up for consideration, consisting of Witherspoon North, Dinky Station, and the Central Business District.
“If there are ever new owners, we can reconsider the shopping center,” said CTF Chair and Council member Eve Niedergang.
There was also talk about how close dispensaries should be to schools, and a 200-foot distance was deemed appropriate, based on liquor store distances in the town.
CTF Council member Udi Ofer felt strongly that the council should stick to the 200-foot rule, instead of putting new guidelines in place.
“I think the regulation of cannabis should be similar to the regulation of alcohol,” Ofer said. “I have two young children, and I take both of them to Nassau Pediatrics. There’s a huge liquor store literally next door and it doesn’t bother me or my kids. Didn’t bother anyone. So I think that we should stick to what we have already decided.”
New Councilmember Milan Vaclavik agreed with Ofer, believing that it will also bring to light and start important conversations regarding drugs and alcohol to young children.
Another issue brought up during the meeting was whether the dispensaries will increase crime rates in town.
Mayor of Cranbury, NJ Michael Ferrante, stated there were no concerns or issues related to crime since a medical dispensary was established in his town five and half years ago.
Ofer also argued that crime follows police presence and that it, “depends on … where heavy police presence is to see more arrests for low-level stuff.”
There were also discussions over which cannabis license to obtain — medical and/or recreational — or perhaps a micro-license. According to New Jersey cannabis laws, a micro-license is a cannabis business with connections to New Jersey, such as a small business, that has “size and operational limitations.” It allows New Jerseyans to have a small stake in the industry.
Town resident and CTF member Dr. Kim Levitt said that she has patients who live in the area who may benefit from a medical market, but both medical and recreational licenses can help the town.
Vaclavik also argued that there is a “larger market if both medical and retail” are put in the town.
There also was talk over ensuring customer privacy with medical marijuana, such as allowing dispensaries the possibility to operate as a pharmacy.
Niedergang also said that “reserving one micro-license” would be favorable.
The meeting, which was held over Zoom, drew in about 18 participants. As the committee begins to write up their recommendations for public comment, the next regular meeting will be held this Thursday, Nov. 11, from 1:30 – 3 p.m.