N.J. looks to next November for weed legalization referendum

On next November’s ballot, the state of New Jersey will ask residents whether people over the age of 21 can use recreational marijuana legally.

After a failed attempt to legalize marijuana last March, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and state Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) formally introduced a resolution to include the question on the November 2020 ballot, according to NJ.com.

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With the exception of Texas and New York, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) data shows police in New Jersey arrest more people for marijuana possession than in any other state.

Additionally, although the state could possibly still pass a bill to legalize marijuana prior to the ballot referendum, the chances don’t seem high as legislators claim the necessary votes aren’t likely attainable, according to NJ.com.

Regarding the University’s drug policy, Associate Dean of Students Winston Roberts said that sanctions for the violation of the University’s student code of conduct, specifically related to drug use, varies on the nature of the violation. An infraction can result in “anywhere from a probation up to dismissal from the University,” Roberts said.

The University’s student code of conduct says that the “use, possession, manufacturing, or distribution of marijuana, heroin, narcotics, or other controlled substances (i.e., prescription drugs) except as expressly permitted by law. This includes possession or use of any form or type of paraphernalia associated with controlled substance(s).”

Furthermore, the policy states that the University will notify parents or legal guardians if their student is found to have violated the code.

Even if the referendum passes, according to Roberts, legalization would not alter the University’s policy towards the substance.

“The fact that Seton Hall University accepts Federal money would prevent the university from changing its policies as it relates to marijuana,” Roberts said. “Under Federal law marijuana is still a schedule 1 drug, meaning it is perceived to have no medical value and a high potential for abuse.”

Some students at the University strongly support the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana in New Jersey. Senior mathematical finance major Jake Underkofler said that the government does not have the right to control what an individual can put into their body. He said the impetus behind his opinion stems from a philosophical standpoint.

“Why does any system try to govern what I’m doing with myself,” Underkofler said.

Junior business finance major Lucas Rodriguez said he has always been a strong advocate for the legalization of marijuana. He said that with the growing trend in recreational marijuana usage, there will be a significant economic benefit as the state can tax the substance.

“Moreover, this tax stream not only allows capital for increasing state-based programs and other governmental projects, but inherently will direct the attention to the seemingly marginalized communities which are targeted for crimes regarding the substance to more populated areas that face palpably egregious criminal rates,” Rodriguez said.

Another contributing factor toward Rodriguez’s opinion was Colorado’s revenue increase of 70% from 2014-2015 due to the legalization of marijuana. He said the growth increase represents a tool for better crime management in the state’s largest cities which have high rates of violence. Moreover, Rodriguez said that dangerous addictions such as opioids, heroin, etc. can be combated with marijuana use.

“Such is the case when recognizing that withdrawal is a major contribution to the continuance of dangerous drug use,” Rodriguez said. “Allowing the addict to rehabilitate within Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) treatment will prevent this continuation.”

Thomas Schwartz can be reached at thomas.schwartz@student.shu.edu.

Author: Thomas Schwartz

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