Moving around town

I am probably joining the chorus of people complaining about the inability of drivers to reach a destination 10 minutes away in less than 25-30 minutes because of the apparent lack of coordination between the town, PSE&G doing sewer line work and PSE&G trimming trees that overhang telephone lines. Of course landscapers with their multiple orange cones intrude as well.

There is very little courtesy for the impatient drivers. This week heading down Braemore Road a driver in a line ahead tried to pass a parked car while a large truck was coming in the opposite direction and dented his/her car without stopping. Today there is a “No Parking” sign on Braemore Road.

The town sends out occasional bulletins of road closings but not often enough. It’s time all parties spoke to each other.

Separately, while talking about courtesy, when my wife and I in our walks try to cross Upper Mountain Avenue from Braemore Road, I count the number of cars going by before one stops and almost every time it is a woman.

Finally, another frequently mentioned subject is people running or walking in the dark with no reflective clothing.

Harris Cohen



Responding to the recent marijuana debate

In his Dec. 14 letter, Thomas Russo wrote about his objections to the bill that will permit adult use cannabis in New Jersey that Gov.-elect Phil Murphy has pledged to sign into law and I’d like to respond to the misinformation he put forth in his letter.

Among the many mistruths he propagated, Mr. Russo objects to the “possible effects adult use cannabis can have on school children” yet in his next sentence states “the bill is structured for those 21 years of age and older.”

He goes on to say he worries about “the strong chance of adult use cannabis getting into the hands of middle class students.”

Using his “fears,” one could easily make the same argument about students having access to “legal” intoxicants, like alcohol and opiates, which are both seriously addictive, whether legally prescribed or bought on the black market, and pose far greater risk to teens and the public at large than adult use cannabis.

Mr. Russo also gives breath to an antiquated perception, not reality, of cannabis as a “gateway” drug that leads to overall substance abuse. It is clear when he comments about cannabis users who will “eventually graduate to the big league sooner than expected,” that his objections are based on his being misinformed.

Where’s his outrage about the doctors and pharmaceutical companies who have created a nation of addicts? No one has ever died from an overdose of cannabis; can Mr. Russo say the same for either alcohol or opiates, both of which, again, are legal and are far more dangerous to our youths? If our current opioid crisis has proven anything it’s that it knows no boundaries who it claims and whose life and families it destroys.

I invite Mr. Russo to be our guest at the upcoming “New Jersey Cannabis Symposium” ( that will be held on Jan. 25 from 5 to 9 at the NJPAC in Newark. The symposium will present attendees with an overview of the impending law by presenting a variety of speakers who are fully educated about the law in front of the governor-elect.

I hope that if Mr. Russo does attend, he will appreciate how misinformed he is about this law and the magic the cannabis plant is capable of, as well as the many benefits to New Jersey’s residents and taxpayers.

Stu Zakim


The author is the communications director of the Marijuana Business Association, a national trade association.


Pot legalization will solve many issues

I wish that Mr. Thomas Russo, in his recent letters on the subject of marijuana legalization, would move past the misinformation spread about marijuana since the 1950s and look to the new information available. The recently released National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that in Colorado, where adult recreational use marijuana is now legal, “little more than nine percent of Colorado teens age 12 to 17 used marijuana monthly in 2015 and 2016, a statistically significant drop from the prior period.”

This is the lowest rate of monthly marijuana use in the state since 2007 and 2008. Legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana drops the bottom out of the illegal market and moves sales into safe and clean businesses. As a mother of teens, I find this very compelling.

Perhaps even more exciting, opioid deaths are declining in states with legalization. Why? Marijuana gives people a non-addictive solution for physical pain and emotional pain such as PTSD and sleep disorders. Fewer people get accidentally addicted when they have a safe alternative.

If these reasons are not compelling, there is matter of racial justice. There are 25,000 possession arrests annually in New Jersey and despite equal usage rates, black people are three times as likely to be arrested. A possession arrest can cost thousands of dollars and result in the loss of employment, student loans and housing.

I would, however, agree that Sen. Nicholas Scutari’s bill is not quite the right direction. We need a marijuana legalization bill that expunges people’s arrest records, allowing them to return to work, allows for home grow, keeps fees to the new market low enough that small entrepreneurs can enter that business and reinvests the money in communities harmed by the drug war.

Elizabeth Ruebman



Thinking about ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’

Have you ever seen this movie? I saw it for the first time when I was a teenager. I remember it was on TV on Christmas Day. It mesmerized me. I thought about it all day. I started watching it every year as it was always shown during the holiday season. When video tapes became available I chose to watch that video every New Year’s Eve or Day.

In case you would like to see it for the first time, I’ll try to outline it without giving too much away. Here goes:

Ever since George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) was a young boy he knew exactly what he wanted to do with his life: leave his small town, travel the world and ... (I’d better stop there). Unfortunately family responsibilities kept him home. Every time he was about to start his new life an emergency kept him there.

When something terrible happened that brought George to the end of his rope, he decided to end it all. As he was about to do just that, enter Clarence, who showed this good man who believed he was “worth more dead than alive” (you’ll see why).

Clarence showed George what life for many of the citizens of Bedford Falls would be like if he were never born.

It’s been said that the two most important days in a person’s life are the day we’re born and the day we find out why.

Thanks to Clarence, George Bailey found out why before it was too late. He was given a great gift.

I still watch this fine film on DVD every Jan. 1. The wonderful message seems appropriate for the hopeful start of a new year.

Oh, yeah! You must experience Clarence. Ya gotta love the little guy. In the words of ol’ George Bailey, “Atta boy, Clarence,” when George found out Clarence finally earned his (can’t tell you ... sorry).

Vincent Tango