At the Tuesday, August 17 Highland Park Borough Council meeting, council members gave unanimous approval to an ordinance permitting the operation of cannabis dispensaries and delivery of cannabis products in the borough. The retail cannabis outlets can operate only in the Central Business District, and the ordinance prohibits cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and wholesale businesses from operating in the borough.
The vote followed a public discussion, as well as previous public forums on the topic in June and July.
Council members noted that in the statewide ballot question in November 2020 on whether or not to legalize the recreational use of cannabis in New Jersey, more than two-thirds of Highland Park residents voted ‘Yes.’ The Council also recognized that their two neighboring towns, Edison and New Brunswick, have already taken steps to allow cannabis sales in their borders.
Mayor Gayle Brill Mittler of Highland Park stated: “With cannabis sales slated to be allowed in our two large bordering towns, it is a moot point as to whether or not there will be cannabis consumed in our town. It most certainly will. What this new ordinance does is enable Highland Park to influence how cannabis will be distributed in Highland Park and to reap tax benefits from its retail sales.”
“The residents of Highland Park overwhelmingly support the legalization of cannabis,” said Councilman Matthew Hale. “Our ordinance takes a measured approach, to fit the needs of Highland Park. There is a way to go in this process but Highland Park is ready to be a leader in the responsible use of cannabis.”
In preparation for the vote to allow cannabis sales in Highland Park, the mayor and council consulted with the police department, the public schools, and the borough’s social worker. The Highland Park Public Schools have planned a comprehensive program to discourage children from experimenting with cannabis, a program similar to the one the schools have employed for years that has successfully discouraged drinking and driving by teens. The Borough’s social worker has developed a set of guidelines for parents on how to talk with their children about the dangers to school age children of cannabis use. These guidelines will soon be available to all residents.