How recreational weed could be the ‘gateway’ to saving lives in NJ (Opinion)
One of the most common arguments I hear from people against the legalization of recreational marijuana is that it's a "gateway drug."
To me, it's the gateway to the best music ever made. If you don't believe me, listen to your classic rock albums. But what if it were the gateway to saving lives in New Jersey?
As David Matthau writes, "More than 3000 people are expected to die from opioid overdoses." Many of them could be saved if they had immediate access to naloxone, which is an overdose antidote drug that brings people back from the brink of death. It's also very expensive.
From Mattau's article: "Caitlin O’Neill, the director of harm reduction services for the New Jersey Harm Reduction Coalition said everyone in the Garden State can now legally possess and carry naloxone without a prescription, which is a positive development, but there’s a problem."
But can everyone afford it?
They could if we made some of the tax dollars coming from legalized recreational marijuana available to them? Where exactly is that money going now?
"Revenue from the state-level taxes will largely be dedicated to the Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Fund (100 percent of revenue from the excise fee, and 70 percent of revenue from the sales tax), and will be spent on social equity programs like grants, loans, reimbursements of expenses, and other financial assistance, in municipalities defined as impact zones. The remaining revenue will be spent on operating the program. Funds from the local gross receipts tax will be collected by and allocated to the locality."
Saving lives sounds like a good social equity program to me. Naloxone not only saves lives but gives them a chance to turn theirs around and becomes productive citizens of New Jersey, which would create more tax revenue. Someone who came that close to dying may choose to turn their life around and weed could be an easier coping mechanism.
When you hear about some of the things Governor Murphy is talking about spending tax dollars on like tampons in the boy's room using marijuana money to bring those whose lives could be lost to opioid addiction seems like a really good idea.
It would give a whole new argument to "marijuana is a gateway drug."
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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