WOODBRIDGE, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The presidential election is just 49 days away.
But, as CBS2’s Nick Caloway reported Tuesday, voters in New Jersey have something else on the ballot — the legalization of recreational marijuana.
When mail-in ballots start going out to Garden State voters in early October they’ll include a constitutional amendment question, giving voters the say on whether or not to legalize recreational cannabis for adults age 21 and up.
While many voters might not even know the marijuana referendum is on the ballot, most have an opinion about legalization.
“No, I don’t believe in that. Because it leads to other drugs. We’ve got enough problems in this world now,” said Joseph Rizzo of Woodbridge.
“You know what? If that’s what they want to do, let them do it. It doesn’t harm my life. It doesn’t affect my life. And I don’t think it harms anyone. If anything, it helps them,” added resident Colleen Staats.
If the referendum succeeds, it would make New Jersey the 12th state, along with D.C., to legalize recreational marijuana.
Gov. Phil Murphy told CBS2 he supports legalization, and the $300 million in tax revenue it could potentially generate.
“Will it have a positive economic impact on state revenues, job creation? You betcha. If you look at other states, it has been significant,” Murphy said.
The governor said he also likes legalization on the basis of social justice, a point echoed by supporters of the plan.
“The reality here is the state of New Jersey spends $143 million a year. There are over 32,000 arrests every year. From the government waste aspect, there’s a lot to do with that,” said Axel Owen of the group NJ Can 2020.
Legalization is popular in New Jersey. Supporters say more than three-fifths of voters are behind it.
But opponents say people should consider the health and safety of adults and children when they vote.
“We know that once you legalize recreational pot, its availability to underage users increases. I mean, that’s a common sense thing,” said Gregg Edwards of the group Don’t Let New Jersey Go To Pot.
If voters do approve legalization it will be up to the state Legislature to implement the plan.
It’s unclear how long it could take for marijuana to hit the market.
If the measure passes, the state can also allow towns and cities to collect a tax on cannabis of up to 2%.
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