EDITORIAL: Marijuana will soon be legalized
Taxpayers will reap numerous benefits
New Jersey lawmakers are confident that a final bill proposing the legalization of marijuana will be passed before Halloween. Legislators have their eye on Oct. 29 as the day this big step will be taken. Though there may still be some issues to iron out regarding things like the level of taxation that should be attributed to the substance, it seems we are quickly approaching a big and positive change.
Despite a seemingly popular consensus in approval of legalization, there is no doubt that there are groups who still seriously oppose the idea. Earlier this month the American College of Orgonomy (ACO), an anti-marijuana group, held an event at Rutgers aiming to bring people concerned with the expansion of marijuana in New Jersey together to discuss the issue and listen to speakers. The event was called, "Problems with Marijuana: An ACO Sponsored Forum.” One of the keynote speakers of this event, Theodore Petti, a Rutgers professor in the Department of Psychiatry and president of the American Society for Adolescent Psychiatry, voiced his concern with the possible effects normalization of recreational marijuana use can have on the developing brain. Though he opposes full legalization, he still admitted to some components of marijuana’s many medical benefits, including its use in mitigating the effects of schizophrenia, reducing Parkinson’s psychosis and stabilizing bipolar disorder.
But it seems the prevailing opinion of the future is that marijuana should be treated like alcohol is. Stigmas around marijuana seem to be fading away, with the substance increasingly being viewed as more permissible and acceptable, especially among young people. Beyond its medical uses, the full legalization of marijuana will likely bring a number of social benefits.
One benefit of legalization is the state tax revenue that would come as a result. Rather than New Jersey tax payers pouring their money into law enforcement with regard to marijuana, which in many cases can be unreasonably detrimental to people’s lives, the state may now be able to accrue as much as $1 billion a year to be allocated toward more pressing issues. For example, that money can go toward things like revamping NJ transit and ultimately take some financial burden off of the Garden State's heavily taxed citizens.
But an issue with carrying out legalization right now may be the lack of organized regulation associated with it. As of now, there is no widely used equivalent to a breathalyzer for the detection of the level of marijuana in a person’s system when they are driving. In the near future, since marijuana legalization is reasonably imminent, it is important that we work on universal measurements so that people know how much of the drug they can intake. In other words, just like the universal measurement of one beer is 12 ounces, we need to figure out what the equivalent of one beer’s worth of marijuana is.
In the end, the legalization of marijuana will be a very positive event in New Jersey’s history. A new age is beginning, in which the use of marijuana will seemingly become an accepted and cultural practice without undue stigma. In the wake of this change, our state and the individuals within it will reap the benefits.
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