Should NJ Legalize Pot? [POLL/AUDIO]
Licensed facilities would be allowed to grow and sell small amounts of marijuana in New Jersey, and residents 21 and older would be allowed to possess and grow a little bit of the drug, under a newly introduced bill sponsored by state Sen. Nick Scutari (D-Linden).
Gov. Chris Christie is not likely to sign the legislation, if it ever gets to his desk.
Under the bill, the state would license marijuana cultivation, manufacturing and retail facilities. Scutari estimates that the state could rake in at least $100 million, if it taxes pot sales at 7 percent. He thinks New Jersey could save at least that much if the courts, the police, and prisons no longer had to deal with people who have been caught with small amounts of the drug.
"This bill will create a strictly regulated system that permits adults to purchase and grow limited amounts of marijuana for personal use," Scutari said. "It would permit the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana and the growing of up to six marijuana plants."
The senator wants 70 percent of the tax revenue from pot sales to be used to replenish the state's Transportation Trust Fund, to fix New Jersey's roads, bridges and tunnels. Another 20 percent would be dedicated to the Drug Enforcement Demand and Reduction Fund for drug counseling, treatment and related programs. The final 10 percent would go to programs addressing women's health, smoking cessation, and HIV awareness.
"It's no secret that the drug laws in New Jersey and in this country prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana have failed miserably," Scutari said. "It's time to update our archaic drug laws."
There is a roadblock standing in the way of Scutari's bill becoming law anytime soon. Christie insists he won't support it.
"What I'm not willing to do is legalize it, or permit recreational use or things that would lead to that," said Christie at a recent town hall event.
Scutari was quick to point out that Christie won't be governor forever.