|New Jersey state Sen. Nicholas Scutari.
New Jersey is wasting millions of dollars on the enforcement marijuana laws and blowing millions in tax revenue that could be generated if the plant was taxed and regulated. Because of that, New Jersey state Sen. Nicholas Scutari says that New Jersey should follow the lead of Colorado and legalize the use, sales and cultivation of limited amounts of cannabis for adults 21 and up.
Of course, as long as Chris “Tollbooth” Christie is in office, actually getting the measure passed and signed into law is a very long shot.
“Anybody that looks at the facts, knows that the war on marijuana has been a miserable failure,” Scutari said in a release. “We’re not delusional about how simple the effort would be, but I think from a standpoint of moving this state and this country forward on its archaic drug laws, I think it’s a step in the right direction.”
|Chris Christie hates your marijuana-using guts.
As do some 59 percent of New Jersey voters, who agreed that cannabis should be legalized, regulated and taxed instead of outlawed. Currently, possession of 50 grams or less is a “disorderly person” charge with up to six months in jail and $1,000 in fines. Get caught with more than 50 grams, and you’re looking at a felony with up to $25,000 in fines and 18 months in jail. Growing penalties are also stiff: cultivation of an ounce or more is a felony with a mandatory three years in jail. Even simply being under the influence of marijuana anywhere in the state is illegal.
As of this blog going up, the actual proposal hasn’t been released. However, Scutari will be holding a press conference later today to discuss the details of his proposal.
“We’re not delusional about how simple the effort would be,” Scutari told NJ.com. “But I think from a standpoint of moving this state and this country forward on its archaic drug laws, I think it’s a step in the right direction.”
But again, the details of the bill won’t matter at all. Christie has said numerous times that he is against any loosening of cannabis laws in his state – that includes relaxing medical cannabis laws so patients can have better access to meds they need. As he quipped back in December 2013 when told of activist plans to expand the state’s medical marijuana program to allow reciprocity with other state MMJ programs:
“See this is what happens. Every time you sign one expansion, then the advocates will come back and ask for another one,” he said. “Here’s what the advocates want: they want legalization of marijuana in New Jersey. It will not happen on my watch, ever. I am done expanding the medical marijuana program under any circumstances. So we’re done.”
However, outside of Christie’s office it seems that times may be changing. New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney says he’s against legalizing pot right now, but that doesn’t mean he wouldn’t consider it down the line.
“I’m open to listening to Nick Scutari’s suggestions on this,” Sweeney said, praising Scutari for having “the courage to talk about marijuana. He is positioning New Jersey” to act on the matter when a new governor is elected.