The Statehouse in Trenton, NJ was a theater in which about 150 people gathered to debate cannabis legalization in the Garden State. Lobbyists and citizens alike voiced their arguments for and against marijuana legalization. The conclusion was that legalizing marijuana would have a giant impact on the state.
First thing to know is that this is a big deal to people across the nation. People drove from as far as Las Vegas and Colorado to testify. And why? Especially when the hearing wasn’t revolving around an active piece of legislation? It mostly comes down to wealth, not to mention phenomenal transportation and densely populated areas. In other words, Jersey would be a prime piece of cannabis real estate if it is legalized.
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Drugged driving remains an issue. A proponent from Colorado said that in his state he wished that they’d done data collection long prior to their 2014 legalization win. He suggested Jersey start collecting data “tomorrow.” As it stands, gauging how many people on the road are lifted is difficult to say the least and even more difficult to say if they had been imbibing right before driving or a week before driving.
It all comes back to the money though, and in Jersey, there’s plenty of money to be made off of recreational cannabis. Experts say that the state could pull in $1 billion or more per year. Despite what you may have heard about the dirty jerz, affluence abounds and even those on a lower income level know how to budget for weed.
The police officer who drove from Las Vegas was a bit of a buzzkill, stating that back market activities have increased in his state since legalization, that the legal possession of an ounce gives cover to dealers on the Las Vegas strip. He also said cocaine seizures are up. Though the coke seizures going up doesn’t make much sense to correlate with legal cannabis, Las Vegas has special circumstances, such as having a highly tourist trafficked strip, that could lead to quick, easy street purchases.
The thing to remember is that the debate has just begun. There are three more hearing to be had in Northern, Central and South Jersey. Two are already scheduled, one on April 21 at Rowan University and another on May 12 at Bergen County Community College, the central location has yet to be determined.