After reading a recent guest column by Michael Gold, who told us about he thought a legal marijuana business would not work in our area (“Not Ready for a Cannabis Store for Billions of Years,” Oct. 20-26), I wanted to respond with one major counterpoint: Don’t judge your neighbors so poorly.
Mr. Gold insinuated that a marijuana cafe would deteriorate the very fabric of our safe, family-friendly community. But it’s an antiquated assumption that those people consuming marijuana, whether for medical or recreational purposes, are somehow less intellectual, caring or community-minded than those who do not partake.
The reference point Mr. Gold gave was to a troubled person he knew growing up who was a regular marijuana user and eventually died of a drug overdose later in life. Not only was this at a time before marijuana was legalized but there is so much context missing that it reduces this argument to pure judgment. We live in a time where our state legislature has deemed it safe to allow the sale of a legal substance to help those with certain medical conditions and to be enjoyed by mature, responsible, and yes, even curious adults.
Because of the place we now find ourselves, which is a state that will allow recreational sales of marijuana, we must be vigilant community members and all play a part in educating and empowering our youth with information and support. Our state should certainly be vigilant safety stewards, and take notes from recently passed laws like one in Colorado that limit the purchase of high-potency THC products.
We all have to hold each other accountable to keep our community safe, but turning a blind eye and pitting our town against others as a moral high ground is not teaching our youth any valuable lessons. We are all responsible for being educational stewards of real information. We should be impassioned citizens by taking part in the decision-making process of where this tax revenue goes and how it can best help us all, especially our youth.
Our community currently benefits from the sale and tax of other restricted products, which years of research shows are much more harmful to society as a whole than marijuana use. Never mind that dispensaries and cafes have a much more stringent security standard than liquor stores and gas stations where alcohol and tobacco products are sold, but we freely let the sale of these products appear right next to all of our beloved family gathering spots without argument.
I would implore all Westchester municipalities to keep an open mind to all members of our community who might be patrons of such marijuana-based establishments for self-care, or yes, even enjoyment. Just as our children see us have a drink of wine at dinner, they deserve to be conscious, educated observers as this part of our society changes, and in many ways, benefits.
I have faith that as members of this community, we all have each other’s best interests in mind. If legalizing marijuana establishments in Briarcliff Manor and the rest of Westchester brings more happiness and revenue to our communities through extensive access and patronage, why would we say no?
Safe, state-sanctioned practices should absolutely be at the forefront, without question. No matter what, New York has decided to allow recreational marijuana, so let’s not pretend we are above this legal substance. That’s taking an outdated moral high ground that simply doesn’t befit our strong, diligent and tight-knit community.