Don’t forget to turn the page and legalize marijuana (Opinion)
While the presidential election has been getting all the attention this November, there's also a very important question on the flip side of your incoming mail-in ballot, which reads as follows:
"Do you approve of amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called ‘cannabis'? Only adults at least 21 years of age could use cannabis. The State commission created to oversee the State’s medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market. Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax. If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products."
One man giving the question a resounding yes is Dr. David Nathan, who is the founder and Board President of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, which according to his website is "the first national and international physicians’ organization dedicated to the legalization and regulation of marijuana." He came on my New Jersey 101.5 show Tuesday, Oct. 20 to talk about why he's in favor of legalization.
"Even the most pessimistic of polls shows that 61% of New Jerseyan likely voters support legalization and they're gonna vote yes on ballot question one," Nathan said when he was on my show .. "There are many reasons to do so. First of all, consider that, even the opposition wants to remove the penalties for marijuana possession. But if you do that and you don't legalize it, you can't regulate the production of your sales...you leave it vulnerable to contamination, you leave the point of sale in the hands of illegal dealers who will sell cannabis, along with other drugs to your kids."
"From the medical perspective, it's a no brainer," Nathan said. "Cannabis is less harmful to adults than alcohol and tobacco. The vast majority of adults are unharmed by the responsible use of cannabis. Underage use (of cannabis) is not going up in legalized states, opioid use appears to be going down."
Can we trust New Jersey to keep the price competitive with those who will still be selling it illegally?
"New Jersey is going to have the lowest tax rate for adult use cannabis in the nation, as far as I know...after prohibition, people were really preferring to drink alcohol that was properly labeled, they knew what they were getting. And nowadays, the dealers who are in New Jersey and selling it illegally, are often selling legal products that were bought cheaper elsewhere, and I think that in New Jersey when we get the industry straightened out, we're gonna find the competitive prices that will make it work here."
What about those who say it will increase traffic accidents and cause a rise in auto insurance rates?
"Any kind of impaired driving is already against the law. And New Jersey actually has the second largest number of drug recognition experts in the police force. And I've actually spoken to them at their annual meeting. The only state that has more than us is California, which is a much bigger state. And the Drug Recognition Experts Association in New Jersey is a very robust organization and they take their jobs very seriously. And that's really the best way to detect any kind of impaired driving is with these drug recognition experts."
Personally, I'm hoping this passes because with these two candidates running for president and our current governor, who has taken over total control of the state forcing many out of work and out of business while raising our taxes, we've never needed legalized marijuana more!
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise. Any opinions expressed are Steve's own. Steve Trevelise is on New Jersey 101.5 Monday-Thursday from 7pm-11pm. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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