New Jersey politicians taking pot shots at cops (Opinion)
Cannabis is now legal to sell for recreational use in New Jersey as long as you have the vast resources and connections to afford and grab one of only a handful of state licenses.
As far as legal purchasing as a consumer, get ready to pay more than two times the value from current street dealers, according to numerous pot users who joined the show last week.
The tricky part of legal pot in Jersey is that marijuana is still a Schedule 1 narcotic and illegal according to the federal government under the Controlled Substance Act. The conflict created by the state puts many people in a bad spot. Specifically, our law enforcement heroes.
For many years, cannabis advocates have railed on the pharmaceutical industry, saying that it's safer and smarter to treat certain ailments with medical marijuana instead of highly addictive opioids. Whether you are pro or anti when it comes to the pot debate, there is no doubt that New Jersey has a huge problem with addiction and prescription drug abuse, and overdose deaths.
We also know that adults in New Jersey, regardless of job status and position, are not prohibited from consuming alcohol during their time off, even to excess. They are not prohibited from taking opioids if prescribed by a doctor. But pot is not allowed.
Some cities are going even furth, publicly saying that cops will be fired if they're caught using. Mayor Steve Fulop in Jersey City called the show to defend his policy of telling cops they'll be fired for using pot. The mayor decided to start the conversation by attacking me for some reason! Listen here:
Cops are already held to a higher standard, and most know that their job is 24/7.
The bottom line is that I am in favor of the decriminalization of pot at the federal level. I am also opposed to the commercialization of pot by the New Jersey government. The idea of limiting the supply and licenses for legal dispensaries is a misguided attempt to keep the little guy out and make huge profits for multi-million-dollar companies.
It's the same reckless and destructive model we see in Atlantic City where only big companies who can afford to build a huge hotel can get in on the gambling action. Unlike Vegas, where all mom and pop shops benefit from the millions of tourists and dollars, AC and NJ overall are a mess for small businesses.
Given the conflict and the confusing rules between the state and the feds, we have a lot of work to do going forward. While we're figuring it out, NO COP IN NEW JERSEY should be fired for using a gummi to get a good night's sleep or smoking a joint in the privacy of his own home.
Cops are already held to a higher standard, and most know that their job is 24/7. But if a law enforcement member needs a few hours off even if it means taking advantage of legal pot in NJ, I say leave them alone. For mayors like Ras Baraka and Fulop using cops as a political tool to score points for a future statewide run is the wrong way to approach a very tricky and not-so-black-and-white issue.
Let's focus on preventing people from committing crimes like using while driving or public intoxication regardless of substance. But to randomly drug test a cop and then fire them over something that is now legal applies an unrealistic standard and one that may result in fewer cops at a time when we need all the help we can get.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Bill Spadea. Any opinions expressed are Bill's own. Bill Spadea is on the air weekdays from 6 to 10 a.m., talkin’ Jersey, taking your calls at 1-800-283-1015.