New Jersey Legalizes Recreational Adult Marijuana Usage


Grace Gewirtz

As of November 3rd, 2020 recreational usage of marijuana is now legal in New Jersey along with Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota for adults over the age of twenty-one. This immensely controversial law has stirred the pot (not literally) in the financial, judiciary, and political fields, but what necessarily does it mean for the general public? According to the Rev. Charles F. Boyer, the founder of Salvation and Social Justice, “This amendment has the potential to be a powerful step forward in our fight against the drug war — or it could perpetuate a status quo that continues to oppress communities of color,” (NYTimes). In other words, one of the benefits this bill reaps is the contents that fight systematic racial inequalities, faced by the bountiful in today’s society. Since in New Jersey, “black residents are more than three times as likely as white residents to be charged with marijuana possession,” (NYTimes) by legalizing the devil’s lettuce, many resources can be saved not only sparing the lives of many black citizens for minor “crimes” but allocates room for more spending to handle genuinely violent crimes. 

It can also be said that the legalization of marijuana ensures the possibility of generating a projected $126 million per year. This additional sum of money can be placed to better local communities, education funding, public roadways, law enforcement, and medical staff. Taxes in New Jersey are the highest in the nation, therefore, with a 6.625 percent state tax on marijuana sales, state taxes have the potential to drop slightly. Despite the two year waiting time predicted for the first dispensaries to appear in the state, officials including Governor Phil Murphy are pushing for dispensaries to start popping up in January of 2021, due to the motivating factors of much-needed job positions, and the enlarged budget gaps in state funding as a result of the pandemic. 

Since the bill passed with wide margins, including 66.9% of citizens voting for the legalization of marijuana, (The Associated Press) this law is one the citizens are ready for despite all the possible downsides that come alongside. Many critics of the bill claim that marijuana is a gateway drug, opening a pathway to narcotics along with the possible mental health worsening factors. However, the state is ready to overcome these challenges, following the path paved by states such as Oregon and Colorado legalizing marijuana eight years ago, and still thriving today. As stated by the NY Post, “A group that opposed the change to the State Constitution to legalize marijuana, Don’t Let NJ Go to Pot, mounted only a muted campaign, hamstrung by limited funds. As of Oct. 29, it had raised only $9,913, compared with the more than $2 million raised by several groups that supported the referendum” (Tracey Tulley). Governor Cuomo believes that this pressure of New Jersey legalizing marijuana will push New York and Pennsylvania to soon follow, joining the third of the country who has made the jump in legalization. As claimed by the state senator from Manhattan Ms. Krueger, “If New Jersey got there first and we got there later, I guarantee you the busiest group of retail marijuana stores in New Jersey would be directly across the Lincoln Tunnel and in Fort Lee, right off the George Washington Bridge,” she later added, “If our immediate state neighbors are going down the road, of course, it will bite into our market”.