Although New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has cautioned the state’s legislative powers not to pursue any further marijuana reforms, lawmakers have mostly ignored his prohibitionary advice and remain on target for recreational marijuana in the near future.
During his recent State of the States address, Christie discussed, in great detail, his plan to conquer the opioid problem currently biting the backs of thousands of New Jersey citizens. Citing statistics that suggest kids who try “any drug” by the age of 13 are more likely to become addicts by the time they turn 20, Christie twisted the ears of lawmakers in hopes of persuading them to halt progress on attempts to make marijuana as legal as beer.
“I hope that this will give pause to those who are blindly pushing ahead to legalize another illicit drug in our state for tax revenue or by saying it will cause no harm,” Christie said. “The statistics prove you wrong. Dead wrong.”
Fortunately, the lawmakers currently elbow deep in the push to bring legal weed to the Garden State do not seem at all prepared to back down simply because Christie, whose term is slated to end at the beginning of 2018, believes a move of this magnitude would lead to increased addiction rates.
In fact, Senate President Stephen Sweeney said in October of last year that the state’s legislative forces were simply waiting for Christie to exit the Governor’s mansion so they could finally get serious about passing a bill that would allow adults to purchase marijuana legally.
“I’m committed to it,” Sweeney told NJ.com. “We are going to have a new governor in January 2018. As soon as the governor gets situated we are all here and we intend to move quickly on it.”
One of the most promising candidates with the potential to take over the helm of New Jersey’s governmental machine is Democrat Phil Murphy. Last year, Murphy, who is predicted to clinch the Democratic l nomination, said he was in favor of establishing a taxed and regulated pot market.
“I support legalization,” Murphy said, adding that, after some carful soul searching with respect to the issue, he believes legal weed is really the best course of action.
Other Democratic gubernatorial hopefuls also support the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Even most Republican candidates seem to have more progressive stance on legalization than Christie.
Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli, who has voted against medical marijuana expansion efforts in the past, says that, while not in favor of full legalization, he would get behind a bill aimed at eliminating the criminal penalties associated with small time pot possession.
Overall, there is a significant amount of support in New Jersey for a taxed and regulated cannabis industry.
In 2015, a lobby group consisting of city prosecutors, law enforcement officers and members of the ACLU called “New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform” made a mission out of getting lawmakers to see the light at the end of the prohibitionary tunnel. The group predicts legalization would bring close to $300 million a year in new revenue, while also saving $127 million by not prosecuting people for marijuana offenses.