For many recreational marijuana advocates, a legal puff-puff-pass session may seem to be in the distant future – especially in a state like New Jersey, with a governor who has remained adamant against legalization.
But with more and more states moving towards accepting recreational marijuana use, will New Jersey be far behind? Gov. Chris Christie’s second term ends next year and the citizens of the Garden State have the opportunity to elect a candidate who supports recreational marijuana use.
There’s already some support for this idea. In 2014, a Rutgers-Eagleton Poll found that two-thirds of New Jersey favored decriminalizing marijuana possession charges and 49 percent supported complete legalization.
Medicinal marijuana use is legal in New Jersey, but Christie, a Seton Hall Law School alum, has unapologetically kept strict regulations on the program.
According to TheCannabist.com, Christie said that he doesn’t want the legalization of medicinal marijuana to become a backdoor for the legalization of recreational use, but he may be fighting against a rising tide.
Since 2012, Oregon and Alaska have joined Colorado and Washington as pro-pot states. California, Nevada, Arizona, Maine and Massachusetts will be voting in this upcoming election to possibly authorize recreational marijuana use.
Economically, it would be a wise move for New Jersey to follow in these states’ pioneering footsteps.
New Jersey Policy Perspective, a non-profit organization that conducts research on public policy issues in New Jersey, found that the state would earn $300 million annually in taxes from recreational marijuana if it were legalized, regulated, taxed and sold to those over 21 years old.
One of the biggest arguments against marijuana use is that it kills brain cells, but according to the Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute at the University of Washington, adults who don’t have heart disease or psychiatric conditions or don’t use marijuana while pregnant probably aren’t at risk of harming their health. It actually has health benefits like controlling epileptic seizures.
If New Jersey regulates the marijuana industry, we could see an increase in tax revenue and potential health benefits.
Regulation would also make it more difficult for teenagers to get their hands on marijuana due to age restriction.
So, what exactly is Christie fighting against?
Ashley Turner is a journalism major from Jamesburg, N.J. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Ashley_MTurner.