Members of the Senate in the great state of New Jersey met today to discuss recreational marijuana legalization. Legalization within the state, which has the potential to bring in millions of dollars of much needed tax revenue. Also, with new laws in place, New Jersey, despite the views of Governor Chris Christie, already has a legal medical marijuana program in place. This program, however, only serves the needs of a very small handful of individuals.
The Senate heard from members of clergy, members of local and state law enforcement, health professionals and other policy making groups. During the state Senate panel, leading Democratic lawmaker, State Senator Nicholas Scutary, said “ I believe our state should lead the way,” with regards to to leading the way with legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for individuals over the age of 21. Legalizing, regulating and taxing cannabis would help pull dealers and consumers alike out of the black market making way for an economically stimulating billion dollar legal marijuana industry within the state.
Like many other states, New Jersey has a much higher incarceration rate due to illegal drugs. EAlso, African Americans and other minority groups are the largest percentage of arrests. During today’s hearing, advocates focused on how the right to consume cannabis is a human rights issue. It will be interesting to see how Senate Bill 1896 introduced by Senator Scutary unfolds. Interesting to see in the next months Governor Chris Christie who firmly opposes marijuana legalization handles the situation.
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