Everyone in New Jersey can agree that Chris Christie is a complete prohibitionist when it comes to any form – medical or recreational – of marijuana. Unfortunately, this has lead to a stigma that only ostracizes him and numerous other Republicans in the state. Yes, they are part of the problem. But they don’t deserve all of the blame.
This isn’t an attempt to cite all of these rather pointless statistics about health, or arrests, or anything of that nature. Facts are facts, and you the reader, already likely have an idea of whether you believe one side or not. This is an attempt to highlight how even with a nearly veto-proof legislature, the New Jersey Democrats have failed to act on behalf of the citizens of New Jersey.
Legalization of marijuana or even the expansion of the medical marijuana program requires the legislature to act. Luckily, State Senator Nicholas Scutari introduced legislation in 2014 to regulate marijuana like alcohol. In November 2015, there was a public hearing on the legislation. Now what? A companion bill was introduced in the State Assembly in May 2014. Two full years later, both bills are still sitting in committee.
Here is the problem: if you or someone you know would like marijuana legalized in New Jersey, it is all dependent on these two bills. Even if the legislature and senate decided to do absolutely nothing with the two bills and the citizens of New Jersey wanted a say, it would require a measure to be passed by the legislature to be put on the ballot in order to be considered for a constitutional amendment in the state. In other words, legalization of marijuana is all dependent on everyone elected in Trenton.
This brings us to the bigger issue: Why hasn’t State Senate President Stephen Sweeney or Speaker of the Assembly Vincent Prieto demanded a vote on the bills? After all, since the issue seems to be largely partisan, all they need is 21 votes in the senate and 41 in the Assembly and they could legalize marijuana in New Jersey. Democrats control 23 votes in the senate and 52 in the Assembly.
Chris Christie would veto the bill. Although, if Stephen Sweeney wanted to be a decent human being, he could probably strike a deal with him. Scutari suggests the potential that the state would raise well over $100 million from marijuana legalization in the first year alone. Christie might be staunchly opposed to legal marijuana, but having some more revenue might be a great argument to make in order to forgo raising the gas tax, which is Stephen Sweeney’s and the Democrat’s idea.
Sounds like they are working for the citizens of New Jersey, doesn’t it?
The legislature would then need 27 votes in the Senate and 54 in the Assembly to override his veto. Theoretically, if the people in Trenton started working for us, rather than working against us, we could have marijuana legalized in New Jersey in merely months.
If the politicians in Trenton don’t want to gut their pharmaceutical campaign funding by actually publicly voting on legalizing marijuana, they could at least refer the measure for the ballot so the citizens of New Jersey can vote on it. Instead, this November the citizens of New Jersey will be voting to raise the gas tax and to allow more casinos across the state (mainly in North New Jersey). Both are failing measures, and it really doesn’t take a brainiac to figure that one out. Why isn’t marijuana legalization on the ballot instead?
Chris Christie might be an advocate of keeping marijuana illegal, but before we go parading Stephen Sweeny into the Governor’s mansion next year, we need to ask him just how different he is from Chris Christie. They might have two different party denominations next to their names, but until Sweeney actually advocates marijuana legalization, just how different is he? He’s the one who essentially got the current ballot measures approved for November. He cares about taking more money from the people of New Jersey, but doesn’t seem to care about the people of New Jersey. Sounds like the current Governor.
Legal marijuana should not be up to the politicians and pharmaceuticals in the state. It should be up to the people of New Jersey. CALL Stephen Sweeney (856) 251-9801 and (856) 339-0808 and demand a vote on NJ Bill S1896 and CALL Vincent Prieto (201) 770-1303 and demand a vote on NJ Bill A3094. They are the gatekeepers to legal marijuana in New Jersey. Let’s hold the politicians accountable.