Recent newspaper articles, yard signs and community voices are now sounding the alarm that pot shops may soon be a permanent fixture within our community. I acknowledge the legalization of marijuana has become more mainstream and acceptable over time. I do however, take exception to public promotion of debilitating drugs.  I also strongly object to promotion of recreational drugs in public settings and more importantly exposure (drug promotion) to children. By way of this letter, I am hoping other citizens of good moral character will stand with me on this particular issue.

Advocates of recreational drugs will be quick to provide a shopping list of perceived health benefits of habitual drugs and related paraphernalia. The one benefit they seldom discuss is the permanent revenue stream going into their wallet or pocketbook.  The long term debilitating health of drug users (seldom discussed) is an expense picked up by employers (if the addicted can find a job) or tax payer subsidized government health programs. Nothing is free.

Of greater concern, anyone reading this letter should be aware that recreational drug use often leads to stronger illegal drug or narcotic addiction. This situation all too often prevents drug users from finding meaningful permanent employment. Unemployment leads to increased crime especially theft as the individuals hooked on drugs must find funds to pay for their addiction. More crime, more demands placed on police, first responders and healthcare providers.

I re-emphasize that we as a community must take a firm stand against all forms of drug promotion. All of us know of the violence and gun shootings at public schools and elsewhere. I ask philosophically and yet pragmatically how many perpetrators of these violent crimes suffered from drug addiction, depression and other mental health issues.  Did anyone intervene or help? Did the community look the other way (not my problem) or take a stand to stop or minimize drug usage? How would you feel if adults or older teenagers promoted marijuana or wanted to sell drugs to your children or grandchildren at the local school? What would you do?

Reliance on recreational drugs leads to more addictive drugs. Heavy drug usage leads to unemployment, places burdens on healthcare systems, our police and certainly could lead to declining property values.  What type of community do you want to live in? Don’t let Atlantic Highlands go up in marijuana smoke. There will be a heavy price to pay.

Gerald Thomas
Atlantic Highlands

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