As the Village Voice reports it’s all about making $’s, taxation and saving money by taking criminality out of the equation…
“The hearing on legalizing marijuana sent a good message to the movement, says Evan Nison, executive director of NORML New Jersey and founder of New York Cannabis Alliance. “It’s a race, whoever legalizes first is going to get a lot more customers,” Nison tells the Voice. “If all of Manhattan has to go to Bergen County to buy cannabis legally, that’s awesome. It’s a race for revenue. I think that will definitely motivate other states to legalize.”
Nonetheless, Nison says that current New Jersey law still clings to antiquated ideas about weed: that marijuana is a gateway drug, more dangerous than alcohol, and leads to the commission of other crime. “New Jersey erodes its residents’ respect for the law and criminalizes over 24,000 otherwise law abiding citizens a year,” he says. He adds that these arrests disproportionately target black and Latino residents. In 2010, alone, enforcing state marijuana laws cost the state almost $130,000,000, according to NORML New Jersey. By comparison, New York City alone spends $75,000,000 a year on marijuana possession arrests.
States that continue to criminalize marijuana are also missing out on a windfall of tax dollars, Nison says, using Colorado as an example: During the first year of its recreational marijuana program, which went into effect in 2014, the state government generated $82 million in taxes from marijuana, and is expected to generate $125 million in 2015. “Moving the sale of marijuana into a regulated system also both created legitimate jobs and appears to have either reduced or maintained the status quo of teen use in both Colorado and Washington,” he says.”
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