Gov. Murphy Plans to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in New Jersey


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Governor Phil Murphy looks to get marijuana legalized in the Garden State.

Caitlyn Kowalski and Sam Renz

Governor Murphy, following the lead of Pennsylvania representatives, is planning to legalize adult-use marijuana for the state of New Jersey. Wanting to do it the “right way”, Murphy believes legalizing marijuana will bring many benefits to the state of New Jersey.

This decision is long overdue. For decades, people have been arrested for nonviolent drug-related crimes, which has contributed to mass incarceration in the United States; this has had an alarmingly high percentage of the population imprisoned, a trend that has been continuing since the 1980s, during Ronald Reagan’s presidency and the “War on Drugs.”

Because the thirteenth amendment abolished slavery “except as a punishment for crime,” the prison system has been too privatized, and millions of people are wasting away in jail for small crimes involving marijuana that harm no one, just for their labor to be exploited by these private prisons due to one small misdemeanor. Moreover, legalizing cannabis would lower prison capacities, freeing incarcerated Americans, and help create rational, pragmatic drug laws. Additionally, legalizing adult-use marijuana will bring a boost to the economy.

Through the legalization of Marijuana, 283,422 new jobs have been created throughout the country. Cannabis legalization has had a massive impact on the states and countries which have enacted it, with Forbes saying it is a “huge job creator” and CNBC saying that the marijuana industry is the “fastest-growing job market in the country.”

The cannabis industry has generated a colossal amount of tax revenue. In 2018, Colorado legal cannabis sales generated $1.2 billion in revenue which collected $270 million in taxes; that same year, the alcohol industry only generated $45 million in taxes. In Colorado’s case, the ‘Marijuana Tax Cash Fund’ was created which was used for more than 60 programs and grants to help target issues such as mental health, education, and environmental struggles.

Lastly, contrary to many people’s misperceptions, legalizing cannabis lowers the use of other drugs. In states where recreational marijuana is legal, alcohol sales decreased by 15 to 20%. In a study based on data from almost 2,900 medical cannabis patients, they overwhelmingly stated that cannabis provided equal relief to their other medications, but without the unwanted side effects. Also, ninety-seven percent of the sample also “strongly agreed” that they are able to successfully lower the number of harmful opiates they consume when they also use cannabis.

Overall, following the trends of 11 other states that have completely legalized marijuana, this change would be beneficial for New Jersey. With the removal of unfair drug laws and a serious kickstart to the economy, the legalization of recreational cannabis is a step in the right direction for New Jersey to become a stronger fairer state.