EDITORIAL: Marijuana legalization is imminent
Eliminating drug's prohibition may have multiple positive effects
As many have assumed in the past, it is becoming more apparent that the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey is inevitable. With Phil Murphy (D-N.J.) as governor, there are new changes to come with regard to the public’s use of the drug. The Bill S830 — one that would make the use and possession of low amounts of marijuana legal for those who are 21 and over — has been introduced by lawmakers. Murphy has also already announced that doctors in New Jersey can now recommend the use of medical marijuana to their patients, which could help people struggling with various issues — and considering the state’s opioid issue, we could use something less harmful to help with things like chronic pain. With the legalization of marijuana, especially for recreational use, will no doubt bring some worries, and the negative and positive consequences of marijuana’s legalization in this state are worth pondering.
One important aspect of legalizing marijuana is the fact that less people will see legal consequences. Marijuana laws have needlessly put an enormous number of people behind bars, separating them from their families and causing lasting damage. Additionally, marijuana’s prohibition has costed the American taxpayers billions of dollars a year. It is reasonable to compare history’s prohibition of alcohol to the current prohibition of marijuana. During alcohol’s prohibition, crime rates increased and criminal organizations were able to take advantage of it, but after its prohibition was repealed, crime rates dropped. In that sense and assuming the same would happen with regard to marijuana, we could kill two birds with one stone in allowing those who do not deserve criminal sentencing to avoid it and putting a stunt in the underground actions of those involved with organized crime.
As previously mentioned, marijuana’s prohibition costs the taxpayer billions of dollars a year. By making marijuana legal, the taxpayer would no longer suffer the burden of pouring all that money into maintaining enforcement and corrections for marijuana. Instead, the government could focus on other more pressing issues, such as revamping the NJ Transit. But not only would the government be able to focus on other things, they would have the money to do so. The taxes that come along with legal marijuana could allow the state government to rake in as much as $1 billion in revenue.
Another effect of the legalization of marijuana would be the eventual elimination of the negative stigma around it. Once it becomes legal, future generations will likely view it similarly to the way people view alcohol now — as just a part of our society. Eliminating its stigma is not necessarily all good, though. After all, we do not want people who are underage to use it or think that it is okay to abuse, which may very well follow from its legalization.
It seems the legalization of marijuana comes with more positives than negatives. With that said, considering the positive aspects of its legalization, it seems it would be unreasonable not to follow through with it. By doing so, we will ultimately keep less people out of prison — and therefore spend less in taxes, keep more families together, allow people with conditions like chronic pain and anxiety to ease their suffering in a reasonably safe way and allow our government to raise tax revenue and complete new projects.
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