EDITOR’S NOTE: The ballot measure was approved, and recreational marijuana was legalized in New Jersey, the AP reported.
TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) – On the ballot in New Jersey, voters will decide whether to legalize recreational marijuana for adults 21 and older through an amendment to the state constitution.
Will New Jersey go green? As CBS2’s Meg Baker reports, marijuana legalization is in the hands of voters, after years of lacking legislative support.
“Most people know marijuana is everywhere all the time already,” said St. Sen Nicholas Scutari.
Scutari, a Democrat, says it is a racial justice issue. Arrests for possession are disproportionately higher for Blacks and Latinos.
And it’s about money.
“Create an economic engine for the state. Not just taxation, but creation of jobs,” he said.
But Republican St. Sen. Michael Doherty says not so fast. The money that comes in may go right out.
“We’ve already seen in other states it hasn’t brought in revenue, and as a matter of fact it has increased law enforcement costs tremendously,” Doherty said.
The New Jersey Association of Chiefs of Police cite concerns about drug impaired driving and the toxicity of today’s marijuana.
Political expert Jeanette Hoffman explains if Jersey residents vote yes, the state legislature must pass a law and then create regulations.
“Setting up licenses, dispensaries, limits for THC for edibles, fines for driving under impairment, tax level and where that money is actually going to go- to communities or the general fund in budget,” Hoffman said.
Legalization would officially occur in January 2021, but it’s not like flipping a switch. In other states, it has taken 4+ years to set up the industry.
More than 70 municipalities have signed a pact not to allow dispensaries in their towns.
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