The Costs of Marijuana Legalization
When state lawmakers consider legalizing marijuana, one of the first arguments they make is that the legalization of the drug will bring in tax revenue. Missing from that argument is the reality that the legalization and commercialization of marijuana has real societal costs associated with it that cannot be overlooked.
New Jersey Psychiatric Association Statement Against Legalizing Marijuana
NJPA opposes proposals to legalize marijuana.
Marijuana use during pregnancy and while breastfeeding is associated with still birth, lower infant birth weight, preterm birth, NICU admissions, and neurodevelopmental delays including possible lower IQ scores later in development.
Decriminalization Versus Legalization
It is asserted, with merit, that marijuana laws are enforced in a discriminatory fashion, thereby resulting in charges, convictions, and sentences that disproportionately affect minority communities. The obvious solution to this real problem is to de-criminalize the use and possession of small amounts of marijuana. There is substantial support in the NJ Legislature to pass a decriminalization bill; so much support, in fact, that the General Assembly passed a decriminalization bill by a vote of 63-to-10 on June 18, 2020. That bill likely would pass the State Senate too.
Why hasn’t the bill even been considered in the Senate? Because legislative leaders who claim to be concerned about unfair and unequal enforcement of marijuana laws really just want to use the issue to justify legalizing pot outright. And they’re not bashful about revealing their true motives. When asked when he would consider the Assembly’s decriminalization bill, Senator Nicholas Scutari, the chairman of the Senate’s powerful Judiciary Committee and the Senate’s most ardent supporter of pot legalization, replied, “I don’t want to do anything to jeopardize outright legalization.”
The self-proclaimed “social justice” warriors are nothing but political charlatans looking to line the pockets of the monied interests seeking to make huge profits from a legal pot market. And they’re willing to risk the unsafe roads, increased incidence of mental illness, and teenage drug abuse that will result from legal pot.
Tax Revenues & Reality
Pro-pot advocates claim that legalizing pot sales will be a tax boon to the State treasury. What’s the likely reality? The Legislature’s professional non-partisan staff’s analysis of the constitutional amendment concluded that the early years of legal sales would raise a mere $125.6 million in new revenues. That’s just 0.031% of Governor Murphy’s $40 billion-plus proposed FY’21 budget. Reasonable people would conclude that the new tax revenue is not worth the damage that legal pot would wreak on the health and safety of New Jersey’s residents.