Hoboken Needs to Exercise More Caution at Recreational Marijuana Dispensaries | Opinion

By Diane Imus

I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the Hoboken Recreational Marijuana Dispensary Project. I write through a lens that few can understand – and that of a parent who lost their child to a drug overdose.

My son passed away in Hoboken in 2018. His sustained marijuana use as a teenager affected him as his brain matured. As he took more, he needed more, and eventually he turned to other drugs.

Cannabis is a drug, and any community plan that allows the sale of recreational drugs while simultaneously eliminating penalties for public use must be executed with care. I’m not opposed to dispensaries – I’m opposed to putting six of them in dense residential areas next to parks, the waterfront, schools and Pier 13.

Hoboken is preparing for something he may not be able to control. As a family town, we have been asked to open our doors to many visitors who will affect our quality of life, and there is no exit strategy if it turns out that having six dispensaries is a disaster.

Hoboken should have a dispensary or two located on the outskirts, perhaps in the new business park where there will be parking. We don’t need six downtown.

For those who have never been to a dispensary, they generate traffic and crowds. In the Berkshires, Las Vegas and Denver, I saw cars lined up with parking attendants managing the flow of people driving long distances to buy, and people standing outside, waiting to be admitted.

We’re making it easier for all of New Jersey and Manhattan to consider Hoboken the area’s “destination potty” by offering six locations in our city of 60,000, more than six times the national average. Our streets at the proposed locations will become crowded with waiting buyers. Children who walk home from school, to have a slice or go to the park will be regularly exposed to this normalized acceptance of recreational drug use. Kids who might not have considered using marijuana will see that it’s not a big deal anymore. But today’s marijuana is nothing like what it was 20 years ago in terms of strength – so that’s a big deal.

Neighboring towns pulled back – they considered the implications and demonstrated their duty of care to their residents. This means that all of the populations of marijuana buyers from Weehawken, Union City – and Manhattan – will come to Hoboken to buy marijuana.

Hoboken can barely handle traffic and parking now. And our police officers have been asked to enforce the “non-smoking” rule on the seafront or in the parks. How will they apply the edibles? What’s stopping someone from grabbing a few 10mg gummies before heading to Pier 13 for a few beers? And then, totally weakened, they get back into their cars.

Hoboken City Council, the Mayor and the Planning Board are expected to reconsider the plans. Had all of today’s facts been exposed before the people of Hoboken and the city council voted to allow recreational marijuana sales, plans might have been made differently. The profits of a few would not take priority over the welfare of the community as a whole.

In addition to quality of life and safety issues, it is unacceptable that the Mayor of Jersey City‘s wife is a co-owner in a hotly contested claim.

There is no downside to proceeding with more caution and modifying and limiting the plan to ensure this is the right approach for Hoboken.

Diane Imus is a resident of Hoboken.

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