UNION, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — For months, Gov. Murphy and state leaders have been divided on how to make money off marijuana. Now, they’ve agreed to tax it by the ounce rather than impose a sales tax.
CBS2 spoke to a man who spent years locking up men and women caught dealing drugs and he says they should try something else – don’t tax it at all.
For decades it was considered the substance that would lead to all other harmful drugs.
“In elementary school we learned marijuana was the gateway drug. So what do we tell our kids now? You show them it’s not a gateway drug,” Nick Bucci, a retired New Jersey trooper said.
Bucci spent 22 years in the New Jersey State Trooper’s narcotics division.
“Nothing short of full legalization will work,” he told CBS2’s Jessica Layton.
It appears the Garden State is getting closer to that. The primary sponsor of the bill to legalize pot says there’s now an agreement between Gov. Murphy and other state leaders on how to regulate and tax it.
Instead of a percentage tax on the price, the tax would be based on the weight a consumer purchases.
“There will be a $42 excise tax on every ounce that is sold regardless of price,” New Jersey state senator Nicholas Scutari said.
That would give the state an idea of what kind of cash it could bring in.
“Like anything else it’s all about the money,” Bucci argued.
Bucci believes the state is missing an opportunity if there’s any tax at all, at least in the beginning.
“I firmly believe if you really want to get rid of that street corner dealer, legalize marijuana and put no tax on it the first two years.”
The former trooper says lawmakers can then gradually add in the tax after that. Supporters are still up against those who say “slow down.”
The group Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy (RAMP) has urged caution when it comes to selling edible treats like gummies and lollipops that contain THC.
“Children are the ones who really suffer here. In Colorado, kids either smoking or eating edibles at 12 years of age. That is the youngest throughout the country,” Mayor Stephen Reid of Point Pleasant Beach argued.
“Do you homework, research, and talk to your kids and tell them the truth,” Bucci said.
Bucci is part of a group of retired law enforcement officers lobbying state officials. He says right now the opposition comes from lawmakers who believe legalization would make it easier for teens to get their hands on the drug and concern over people driving under the influence of pot.
The senate needs 21 yes votes for the measure to pass. Right now, sources say they have 16.