Boonton Stirs the Pot


BOONTON – Marijuana may be legal in New Jersey, but its stigma remains.

To many – far more than simple logic would suggest – pot smoking is the province of degenerates and all-around lowlifes.

This truth runs counter to polls that say about half of all Americans have used the drug at least once, not to mention some hard facts – namely that voters strongly supported legalizing recreational marijuana in 2020.

But apparently, polls are polls and elections are elections.

This month in Morris County alone, we saw governing bodies in Madison and here in Boonton deny applications for pot, or to be official, cannabis dispensaries.

The Madison proposal was merely for medicinal marijuana; the Boonton plan would have been for recreational use.

The drama in Boonton unfolded at a meeting on Monday night that extended into Tuesday morning The comments made by those opposed mirrored what one heard a week or so ago in Madison, and were probably similar to those being made around the state by like-minded souls.

In no particular order, opponents said that a pot dispensary in their town would:

Lower property values.

Be a bad thing for children to see.

Increase crime.

Hurt the town’s image.

Supporters in both towns stressed the financial benefits of dispensaries, which in a state where property taxes are awfully high is a legitimate point.

In a fascinating aside, officials pointed out that virtually no members of the public attend budget meetings.

Supporters also stressed the medical benefits of pot and noted that many who use marijuana are not lowlifes, but “regular” people.

It is worth noting that like Madison, Boonton has a fair number of bars and liquor stores, which may explain why one official said this was a tricky situation The underlying point here is that many of those who think nothing of having a few cocktails at dinner or drinking a few beers while watching football seem to think enjoying a joint or a pot edible is some type of degenerate behavior. And all this is happening while illegal pot has been part of the culture for decades. Why that stigma remains is puzzling.

In Madison, the dispensary was unanimously rejected. In Boonton, the vote was 5-4.

In both cases, there was seeming support for dispensaries on the respective governing bodies until a large – and vocal – crowd of opponents showed up at a meeting. Back in 2020, voters in both towns strongly backed legal pot.

This brings up a question that one time or another confronts every elected official.

Do they try to represent a majority of their constituents, or just the crowd of people who happen to be in front of them at the moment?

Philosophical questions aside, the 2020 results notwithstanding, marijuana is not yet mainstream in New Jersey, at least in the eyes of many local officials.

One dispensary supporter in Boonton said of pot, “This is the way of the world, the law has been voted in.”

Maybe “the way of the world,” but not yet the way of New Jersey.

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2 responses to “Boonton Stirs the Pot”

  1. The Boonton Mayor needs this pot dispensary to cover his $500,000 budget deficit. He threatened at the meeting that he will have to lay off people if it did not pass. Oh well. Loads of people get laid off in Corporate America all the time due to budget issues. Boonton employs a lot of people for a small town and they are very well paid. For example, the head of the Water and Street Dept makes $150,000 before benefits. Also, perhaps he shouldn’t have purchased the Darress Theatre for $700,000 or upgraded a local park for $500,000. Stop spending our money frivolously.

  2. It should be noted that Boonton did not decide NOT to open a dispensary, but rather voted against expanding the business zone designated for same. The rejected location was ideal in terms of space and parking, but due to concerns of its proximity to Main St., and the traffic disruptions it would cause (it would have been located on a two lane street), the idea was shot down. Instead, I believe a lease has been signed for a location near the bowling alley on Myrtle Ave., within the original designated zone.

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