I decided to write this today in order to discuss cannabis legalization and some of the concerns I’ve seen raised not only during this election season but since the topic of legalization was first brought up during Governor Murphy’s campaign. 

One of the biggest concerns I’ve seen is the idea that cannabis is a dangerous drug that leads to worse, harsher drugs. This is just not true. Cannabis does not lead to harsher drugs, drug dealers do. You won’t be seeing a sale on heroin at your local dispensary. In fact it is actually easier to intake a deadly amount of soy sauce than a deadly amount of cannabis. And if we are looking at cannabis from a psychological perspective, a person can develop dependence to cannabis, but not addiction. And this is without mentioning the myriad of health benefits that have been found with cannabis use including pain relief, anti-inflammatory properties, and alleviate anxiety. 

Another concern I have seen raised is the idea of “dirty pot shops” opening up in towns and our state being enveloped in a cloud of cannabis smoke. When it comes to dispensaries it is not as if the corner drug dealer is getting a kiosk to sell his weed now. Dispensaries can almost be compared to jewelry stores in which the product is kept in glass display cases. And other states that have legalized cannabis already have also put restrictions on advertising and sign designs to not showcase cannabis imagery, and allow them to better integrate as another store in town, not an eye sore. And if cannabis is legalized there will still not be public consumption allowed so it’s not as if people are going to be smoking weed on every corner downtown.

Whether you plan on using cannabis or not, I do believe people should have the option to safely purchase and use this product. There are too many benefits of legalization for citizens as well as the state at large. I hope people vote yes on the referendum and that town leaders, including our own, rethink their ban on dispensaries that were passed before a legalization bill was fully drafted.