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Heartbreak sure to come

With the recent election in the state of New Jersey, the people have spoken by casting their ballots, thus making recreational marijuana legal. As a former law enforcement executive I offer the following. 

The nature of marijuana can cause psychological dependence on it. While there is no accurate measure of the prevalence of nonmedical use of marijuana vs. recreational use, various personality traits will be affected. The intoxicating THC in marijuana is generally recognized by the American Medical Association. During my tenure as an original member of the Montclair Police Department’s Narcotic Bureau, I found that chronic users of marijuana in general were lethargic, neglectful of their personal appearance and occasionally used it as a means of gaining social acceptance among their peers. I predict with the legalization of recreational marijuana most new experimenters will use it on a social basis similar to the social use of alcohol. 

Urban areas with their concentrated population of young people from lower-income families, who may become dependent on marijuana, will from my experience have a greater chance of progressing to harder drugs. The recreational use of marijuana is going to become a nightmare for law enforcement, as there is no test to determine if an individual is under the influence of marijuana other than a blood test. 

Drivers under the influence of marijuana will create havoc on our roadways and highways due to intoxication behavior, which can create distortion of time and space, confusion and impaired judgment. 

I realize my opinions on this subject are in the minority; however, I feel it is my obligation as a former law enforcement official to make my views known. The people of the state of New Jersey have spoken; it is now necessary for our legislators to establish responsible legislation, as legal control is most important over the sale of marijuana under state and federal guidelines. 

Having dealt with black market drug dealers I can tell you this new legislation is a drug dealer’s dream come true, and is not going to eliminate marijuana sales in the black market. Supply and demand with no taxes will become lucrative. 

I urge our legislators in crafting this new bill not to negate the ability of police to enforce the law. As a former law enforcement official, I can support decriminalization of marijuana depending on its weight, and marijuana for medical use, as prescribed by a doctor. 

I’m sure this new legislation will be a blessing to politicians via taxes to the state, and the fact is that they did not have the intestinal fortitude to enact this law themselves, thus leaving it to the voters to decide. It’s good politics for politicians to embrace and agree with the election results; however, I can assure you it will also cause heartbreak in some families.

Thomas J. Russo

Retired chief of police and director of public safety for the Township of Montclair

Systemic racism and homelessness

I am writing in response to the article titled “Montclair Advocates Gearing Up to Aid Homeless” by Jaimie Julia Winters published in your newspaper on Nov. 5. I have lived in Essex County all my life and attended school in Montclair since I was 4. Throughout the years, I have volunteered at Toni’s Kitchen and Covenant House, and participated in numerous food drives to do my part in helping the community. Homelessness in Essex County is a huge social issue, especially now more than ever, with the coronavirus pandemic.  

What surprised me while reading the article was that most of the homeless counted in NJCount were African American, at 72.2 percent, 15.5 percent were Latino or Hispanic, and 9.3 percent were white. 

Systemic racism does in fact still contribute to homelessness in our county.  

It is disappointing how residents in the community still need to make a choice between feeding their family and paying rent. Especially now, with the holidays approaching, homelessness and lack of resources and food is a pressing issue that the Montclair community must address. 

Even the smallest gesture, like bringing a bag of canned goods to Toni’s Kitchen, can make a large impact on certain families in the community. It was interesting gaining insight on how the Montclair community is preparing to aid the homeless and how local community members can help during these uncertain times.  

Geena Pacifico 

Caldwell

Stop collaborating with ICE

The all-Democratic Hudson County freeholders held their regularly scheduled meeting last week via Zoom.  The meeting ran about four hours because 40 to 50 people spoke against the renewal of the county’s contract with ICE.  The contract is due to expire soon but has not yet appeared on an agenda.  Some of the Hudson County freeholders use the same justifications for keeping the contract that are made by their Essex County colleagues: that housing the detainees in Hudson County will keep them closer to their family and lawyers.  But the fact is that the county has no control over whom ICE moves in or out of the jail.  A quote from Hudson County Freeholder Chair Anthony Vainieri: “Why don’t you call the 12 mayors in the county and ask them if they want their county taxes raised?” So is the county holding them for their own good or is it really just the money?

The detainees are being held in civil detention, i.e., they are not charged with any crime.

They are undocumented because the Trump administration has made applying for asylum literally impossible.  The Democrats used to be the party of immigrants — now we lock them up.  For money.

Jim Price

Montclair

Seeking donations for early parolees

The N.J. Department of Corrections is releasing early 2,200 people from its prisons to reduce the overcrowding and minimize the risk of contracting COVID. This is excellent news since N.J. has the nation’s worst prison death rate from COVID.

Released people have a lot of needs, including housing, phones and employment, among other things. But what does the government do to help those who were incarcerated to guarantee a successful reentry to society? The only thing they gave them: train tickets and face masks. Not enough.

NJ Reentry Corp., a local nonprofit organization, is asking for donation of pandemic emergency survival kits. They need undergarments and toiletries for men and women. There are several drop-off locations. One of the locations is 936-938 Bergen St., Newark, N.J. 07112, 973-982-6896. For more info please call or go to their website: njreentry.org. Please donate. They need our help.  

Maria Eva Dorigo

Montclair

Lloyd in need of lighting

Has electricity become as scarce as toilet paper in Montclair? For some reason PSE&G has decided to ration electricity on our street. I live on Lloyd Road, and walking my small brown dog through the Stygian gloom has become hazardous as my neighbors and I stumble about, waving our flashlights while calling Marco Polo. I found my account number and called the electric company but, alas, with no response. Perhaps this is PSE&G’s comment on the politics of our time.

Sue Young

Montclair

More memories of Macy’s

I very much enjoyed Janice Cohn’s letter in the Nov. 5 edition. It stirred a memory and a reminiscence, a reminiscence because I was about 5 years old and not remembering it was told about it years later by my mother. 

My grandmother, a very simple, frugal woman, saw a Macy’s ad for a boy’s wool coat with a fur collar at a sale price. She was the sort of woman who had well-worn and well-mended clothes she wore till the day she died, so suggesting this as a Christmas present for me was quite unlike her, but my mother liked the idea, so off to Macy’s we went. 

Our salesman didn’t like it at all, and when we said “We’ll take it” he exploded, “Why do you want to buy that thing” — it was the tail end of the depression and we were probably a pretty shabby-looking threesome — “take him home and get him something to eat instead, “ and we were out the door. 

My memory dates from a good 15 years or so later, when I was a college student in the city. I was hired as part-time sales help at the store during the Christmas rush. We had a week of training, mainly concerned with how to deal with a complicated series of sales slips. Today, if someone isn’t paying cash, you stick some plastic in a machine and it does the rest, but then there were all sorts of fussy credit arrangements. 

Anyway, I didn’t pay much attention to these instructions. I think I did some schoolwork instead, so when we were turned loose on the floor I was ill-prepared. As it turned out I was assigned to the toy department, much to the chagrin of my fellow trainees; it was by far the busiest part of the store, but when my supervisor took one look at me he must have taken pity. 

I was stationed at a counter that was an island of calm in the midst of chaos, the eye of the hurricane. It sold very expensive toy soldiers and an absurdly expensive replica suit of armor made for kids whose parents might have bought them fur-collared coats years before. 

The one item that was within most customers’ price range was a cheap toy sword. Potential buyers would ask if it was dangerous for a kid to play with, and I’d point out  that although the blade edge was dull, the point was sharp. 

I could count the number of sales I made on the fingers of one hand. I was probably the worse sales employee the store ever had. Still, it was a great time of year. I loved taking part in the Thanksgiving Day parade, being handed a rope attached to one end of Pluto and told to hang on. 

I remember getting off work, taking the elevator to the ground floor, where the big tree with all its decorations stood, walking across 34th Street, a fairyland of lights, crowds and canned holiday music, to the subway. It was even festive that time of year, a season of hope even now. So as another little kid who never got a fur-collared coat  use to say: “God bless us, every one.”

George Bretherton

Montclair