New Jersey needs to model Vermont on pot (Opinion)
That's right, I'm a Trump supporting registered Republican who doesn't smoke pot and I think Vermont got it right with legalization.
In 2018, the Republican Governor of Vermont, Phil Scott, signed a new law into effect, which effectively decriminalized possession and home grown marijuana cultivation. In the new law, there was no specific tax on the plants and regulations were put in place to make sure it was still illegal to drive and smoke in public places. Seems to me that this is exactly the kind of legislation we need in New Jersey. Decriminalize the possession of small amounts, allow someone to grow a few plants at home and move on.
Currently the Vermont legislature is moving through an additional bill, which will set up a regulatory and tax mechanism for retail sales of pot. Unlike California, which has such a huge tax burden on legal retailers helping the 'black market' flourish, Vermont seems to be aware of the need for a reasonable structure which will actually generate revenue and encourage 'legal' sales.
I can already tell you New Jersey law makers will likely screw this up. In their zeal to create revenue projections instead of actual revenue to say they balanced the budget, the likelihood of an enormous tax similar to California is huge. This will encourage more illegal sales and the revenue will simply, not materialize. If the legislature can follow the example of Vermont and decriminalize possession, allow for home growing of a small number of plants and then work out a reasonable retail plan that will subject sales to a sales tax similar to other products, we might actually accomplish some reform when it comes to incarceration of young people and reduce the illicit drug market.
The real test is to see whether either of our two US Senators have the guts to work with the GOP-Led Senate and create federal legislation that will do the same. If the Trenton insiders can refrain from leading with a pot tax, then I'm a 'yes' vote on the question of legalizing recreational use.
Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015. Tweet him @NJ1015 or @BillSpadea. The opinions expressed here are solely those of Bill Spadea.
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