adidas eyewear How New Jersey’s push to legalize marijuana could impact Staten Island
Ready or not, the Garden State is set to become the grass state.
Experts predict marijuana could be available for purchase in New Jersey within a year following recently elected Gov. Phil Murphy’s campaign promise to legalize it for recreational use.
And with three of Staten Island’s four bridges connected to the Garden State, the impact on law enforcement, crime, the economy and public health should be felt here as well.
WHERE IT STANDS IN NEW JERSEY, NEW YORK
Two bills are on the table in New Jersey.
Both would allow for possession and personal use of marijuana for anyone at least 21 years of age; form a state agency to regulate the industry; establish a market of growers and sellers; impose a state tax on weed, and clear low level marijuana charges from criminal records.
One would allow residents to grow marijuana at home for personal use; the other would not. Democratic legislators have said they will work together to combine the bills, according to the report.
Murphy reiterated the plan to legalize during his inaugural address for the purposes of a stronger economy and better opportunities for residents saddled with a low level pot charge on their permanent record.
“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana,” he said last month. “And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”
While it could take 24 to 30 months for regulators to write the rules and start issuing licenses once either bill passes the legislature, there is a provision that would allow existing medical marijuana providers to sell recreational weed as soon as 90 days after the bill is signed.
Meanwhile, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his 2018 budget plan proposed funding an advisory panel that will recommend whether to legalize recreational marijuana in the Empire State.
The Trump administration, on the other hand, has issued a stark reminder about what remains a federal ban on marijuana, raising concerns throughout the recreational industry. attorneys in legalized states the go ahead to enforce federal laws as they see fit.
at least some proponents of legalizing marijuana in New Jersey appear unfazed.
Murphy said he would support a bill if it survives the legislature.
And weeks after the Sessions memo was announced, House Democrats introduced a bill to legalize marijuana on the federal level, according to a Business Insider report. The legislation is a companion to the Marijuana Justice Act introduced last year by New Jersey Sen. Corey Booker.
THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE REALITY
In light of what is happening in New Jersey, the Advance explored how legalization there could affect law enforcement, the economy and the opioid crisis here.
We spoke with an addiction specialist on Staten Island who cautioned legalization could compound the drug crisis, a state senator who said the time to legalize marijuana in New York is now, and police officers who said detecting a driver impaired by marijuana is complicated.
In addition, the Advance sent a team to Oregon, where a prohibition on recreational marijuana was lifted in 2015. The reporters toured a massive grow house owned by a New York businessman and visited Portland’s notorious “Green Mile” a high concentration of marijuana dispensaries located in close proximity along Sandy Boulevard to catch a glimpse of what legalized weed might look like in New Jersey.
Those in favor of legalizing point to an estimated $300 million in annual tax revenue the industry could generate in New Jersey. The move also is expected to save millions per year in law enforcement costs.
The estimate which factors in customers from New York and Pennsylvania is based in part on statistics in Oregon, where in October the state paid out $85 million in marijuana taxes. The funds were used to improve schools, public health and police departments, among other things, according to an Oregonian report.
It’s uncertain how many licenses for grow facilities would be handed out, which would go a long way in determining who the big winners are financially, said Chris Goldstein, a pro cannabis advocate and Temple University professor who formerly served on the board of directors for the National Organization for Reforming Marijuana Laws.
Currently, there are just five treatment centers licensed to grow marijuana for medical use in New Jersey. Goldstein worries that could carry over to the legalized side of things, limiting business opportunities for entrepreneurs.
“There’s super players looking to get an exclusive piece of the legalization pie,” he said. “They want the whole damn pie . diversity in the industry will be important.”