September 26, 2023
September 26, 2023

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Responsibility Changes Everything

If the Teaneck Republican Municipal Committee (TRMC) was truly concerned about the welfare of Teaneck (Teaneck Republican Municipal Committee Statement on Cannabis” March 9, 2023), perhaps the organization should have inveighed against excessive drinking of alcohol, which has plagued many communities for decades. Or the ingestion of food products with unhealthy amounts of the wrong sugars. Or the overuse of gasoline-energized garden implements.

Instead, the TRMC uses the idea of criminality to cast a long shadow on cannabis and its usage. Does the organization not realize that alcohol, too, was once illegal?

The TRMC states: “After a recent town forum, we were appalled to witness the cavalier attitude expressed by many of the participants toward a substance which can be dangerous to those who use it…”

“Cavalier” has a multitude of meanings including haughtiness. The TRMC should be clearer regarding its judgmental perspective so we know what blame is being foisted onto our community.

The TRMC tells us that “cannabis and CBD retailers are considered high-risk merchant accounts because they are more likely to default on their payments, suffer high levels of chargebacks or commit fraud.”

The fact is that banks in general are concerned about the legal dangers surrounding any aspect of cannabis. It really has nothing to do with the trustworthiness of cannabis merchants. It does mean that the financial system is still trying to catch up to the new reality of cannabis being legal on the state level but not on the federal level.

In the end, the TRMC is very afraid of outside judgment. It doesn’t want to reside in “‘the pot capital’ of Bergen County” (its characterization).

Perhaps many of us are responding out of fear. Cannabis is now legal on the state level. What does the future bring? Complete drug legalization? Easy access to narcotics? Psychotropic tripping? Deteriorated values? Families and communities torn apart? The United States spinning into the abyss?

Hold onto that feeling and be mindful of those concerns. Because that is what people felt over a century ago. But in 1920, the drug du jour was alcohol and everyone’s worries were much more profound. Social disruption, moral corruption, economic cataclysm, national disaster–these were the concerns that drove liquor prohibition. These were the worries that shaped post-prohibition regulations.

Acknowledgment: I happen to like potatoes. Should Idaho be forced to close down because I made the poor decision to overeat starch?

Fun fact for the TRMC: Ancient Israel used cannabis in Temple offerings (

Full disclosure: I do not condone the use of alcohol or cannabis. Excessive use of either is associated with great health risks.

The CDC estimates that 95,000 people die from excessive drinking every year. And cannabis use may not be safe for children, teens and pregnant women.

But removing cannabis from Teaneck will not change very much. It will just mean that Teaneck will not benefit from the cannabis business now set up in numerous townships surrounding us.

You know what will alter our town? Being responsible in all we do. Educating every single individual so that smart decisions about life can be made in a substantial way.

In fact, that venerable idea—personal responsibility and responsibility for one another—will change everything in this world.

And if you’re Jewish, I guess you already knew that.

Josh Teplow
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