Legal Marijuana in New Jersey? Not on Christie's Watch

Politics
Legal Marijuana in New Jersey, Not on Christie's Watch

Governor Chris Christie has let it be known that he and his state of New Jersey have no wish to join the 'Green Rush', and any states that profit from the cannabis industry are gaining "blood money."

These days there is seemingly no shortage of interest by state governments in generating new forms of tax revenue through the growing cannabis industry. However, this is not the case in New Jersey — not if Christie has his say in the matter.

“This should not be permitted in our society, it sends the wrong message,” Christie said. “Every bit of objective data tells us that it’s a gateway drug to other drugs. And it is not an excuse in our society to say that alcohol is legal so why not make marijuana legal… Well, why not make heroin legal? Why not make cocaine legal? You know, their argument is a slippery slope.”

And on the issue of legalizing marijuana to raise taxes, Gov. Christie said, “To me, that’s blood money. I’m not going to put the lives of children and citizens at risk to put a little more money into the state coffers, at least not on my watch.”

Christie made these remarks at a recent ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new outpatient rehabilitation facility on the Jersey Shore. He further stated, “As long as I’m governor of New Jersey, there won’t be legalized marijuana in this state.”

The pro-legalization side believes that legalizing marijuana would lead to huge tax revenues for the state, where as marijuana opponents worry about the possible public health risks. They also point out that Colorado, the experimental state that all other states look to for marijuana industry revenue numbers, had estimated it would collect in excess of $100 million in taxes from the first year of recreational marijuana sales. Colorado ended up falling well short of that lofty goal, instead bringing in about $45 million from recreational sales. This makes some say that what Colorado is doing is simply not working. However, when you add in taxes collected from medical marijuana and other fees the overall total of marijuana-related taxes, it rises to a hefty sum of about $76 million.

In the end, what Christie has to say matters little, as the proposed Marijuana Tax Equity Act, though by no means a sure thing, would end federal prohibition on marijuana. Either the federal government will step in and allow for marijuana sales in the state (not to mention taxed at a whopping 50% by the feds) and/or the black market will continue to thrive. There is really nothing Christie can do except shout down the issue like so many times before.