When I saw the plan for legalized marijuana in New Jersey, I reached out to Dr. David Nathan who is a Princeton-based psychiatrist and educator. He is also the founder and board president of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, the first and only national physicians’ organization dedicated to the legalization and regulation of cannabis in the United States. And it all started here in New Jersey, when Dr. Nathan was asked to join the coalition called New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform.

This is legislation is a major step forward for social justice and public health in NJ, "We're not reinventing the wheel here," says Dr. Nathan.

"This isn’t about creating the cannabis industry, it has thrived for decades. It’s about controlling it."

Which is a much better idea than prohibition according to Dr. Nathan.

"Cannabis prohibition was never a good idea, and it has proven to be harmful, ineffective and unnecessary," Dr. Nathan says. "It's harmful because of racial disparities in arrests, it's ineffective because it hasn’t kept it away from kids and it's unnecessary because the great majority of adults are unharmed by their use of cannabis."

It really comes down to just 2 options says Dr. Nathan, "New Jersey must choose between regulation or prohibition, there is no third option."

As for discrimination, Dr. Nathan says, "Some have called for decriminalizing possession but keeping the supply chain illegal. This prevents government regulation, so it’s really just a continuation of prohibition. Regulation includes decriminalization and does much more, with social justice provisions that help communities harmed by prohibition, particularly communities of color. NJ’s legislation is very carefully written, and controls will be much greater than in the western states that have legalized"

One can only hope.

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