Plan to allow marijuana retail businesses in Princeton met with scorn, concern

A controversial proposal to allow cannabis retail shops in Princeton led to overflowing public comment at a virtual town council meeting. Some residents support the measure, while others say that Princeton is not the right place for marijuana sales.
“We love Princeton. It’s a diverse area, and there’s a lot of really good, nice people,” says Mamoun Chater, owner of Mamoun's Falafel.
Mamoun's Falafel has been a mainstay of downtown Princeton for seven years. Chater says that he would have no issue with a cannabis retail shop opening alongside his restaurant.
“I think that it's something that people enjoy recreationally and in the comforts of their own home, so if there's a store nearby and people are frequenting it, doesn't matter to me. As long as it doesn't affect our business,” he says.
But several other township business owners and Princeton residents tell News 12 New Jersey that they do not think it is a good idea.
“It’s something to be investigated. But if cannabis leads to something more determinantal, then it should be outlawed,” says one resident.
Princeton University is one of the top-tier education institutions in the world. The town around the institute has been reliably progressive and Democratic. Some may be surprised that there is some resistance to putting cannabis shops in the town.
“I do not want retail marijuana storefronts in Princeton,” said resident Brett Cafmail.
During a four-hour Zoom meeting on Wednesday night, Princeton’s all-Democratic council heard from residents who were concerned with the plan.
“Most residents voted to legalize marijuana out of concern for wrongful incarcerations in the past. Not to open retail stores near our schools, near people's homes, or in our walkable family areas,” said resident Lisa Jackow.
The town will hold a second Zoom meeting before any final decisions are made. A date for that meeting has not been set.