Democratic gubernatorial candidate Lisa McCormick said she supports legislation being crafted by Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) that would make marijuana legal for recreational use in New Jersey.
Marijuana is legal in Alaska, Colorado, California, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, and Washington D.C.
“No American should be jailed for smoking marijuana,” said McCormick. “The so-called ‘war on drugs’ declared by President Richard Nixon has been an unmitigated failure that cost billions of taxpayer dollars and ruined millions of lives instead of addressing a public health issue in a sensible and intelligent way.”
Colorado collected $135 million in taxes and fees during 2015 and advocates estimate the financial benefits of legalization in New Jersey would include $300 million a year in sales tax revenue.
Eight out of ten Americans support the medical use of marijuana, nearly 3 out of 4 Americans would only fine (no jail) recreational smokers and 58% of Americans favor legalizing marijuana, according polling referenced by McCormick.
“It is time to respect the freedom of adults to make their own choices in balance with everyone’s obligation to refrain from causing harm,” said McCormick.
Gov. Chris Christie has opposed marijuana legalization for recreational use and reluctantly enforced a law Scutari sponsored that was signed by Gov. Jon Corzine on the day before he took office in 2010, establishing a medical marijuana program that serves about 11,000 New Jersey residents.
Christie said he suspects that medical marijuana leads to recreational drug use but his term expires in January 2018. Scutari, who is a municipal prosecutor in Linden, is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“This is something that a vast majority of Americans want, and a vast majority of New Jersey residents want,” said Evan Nison, executive director of NORML New Jersey, an organization that advocates the legalization of marijuana.
But Nicholas DeMauro, chief executive officer of the DARE New Jersey drug prevention organization, called marijuana “a very dangerous and illegal drug” and said legalizing it would “send our kids the wrong message.”
“I don’t believe the war on drugs in New Jersey has been a failure and, in fact, we are very proud of the efforts of our organization over the past 25 years,” DeMauro said.