Marijuana legalization is one of the most contentious topics in America today. Though Colorado, Oregon, California, and five other states have all legalized marijuana, although with limits, other states are either debating the subject or have decided to ignore it entirely. New Jersey is one of the states involved in this controversial controversy, with the case being fuelled by the ongoing gubernatorial primary elections. Clearly, the demands for marijuana legalization in New Jersey have been loud and clear. Not only are protests emerging in communities throughout the state, but also some of the front-runners for the gubernatorial elections have been vocal in their support for marijuana legalization. While prohibitionists base their justification on marijuana’s high potential for abuse and its association with unfashionable lifestyle, the proponents believe that marijuana’s legalization is a solution to the social justice problems of high arrests rates, and can provide a good source of tax revenue.
Under the 1970’s Control Substance Act, Marijuana was classified as a Schedule 1 drug, on the basis that it has “high potential for abuse.” The classification of the drug came to the belief that people smoking marijuana get hooked (Gupta, Sanjay). The concept also suggests that marijuana dominates the lives of the “potheads,” affecting their functionality and ability to work or socialize. Moreover, marijuana was the drug of choice for hippies and losers, a group of people associated with unfashionable thinking and lifestyles. Therefore, the notion of imposing criminal sanctions for the use and possession of marijuana is perceived as saving a generation from self-destruction through Marijuana use. Furthermore, for the prohibitionists, the idea of marijuana legalization seems to endear to the increase in the number of addicts cannot contribute much towards the society.
However, research illustrates that the use of the drug for recreational use has a long history with its research dating as back as 1840s (Gupta, Sanjay). Unfortunately, most of the research was on the harmful effects of marijuana. In this article, “Why I Changed My Mind on Weed,” the author explains that people have been “terrible and systematically misled for nearly 70 years” on the case of marijuana use and ban (Gupta, Sanjay). The author, Gupta, explains that the marijuana was not classified as a schedule I substance through research, but rather, by the lack of it. Through the directive to prohibit the use and consumption of drugs, most people are arrested, charged, and even put behind bars. As the New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform estimates, the legalization of weed would save about $127 million used each year to enforce the laws on the use and possession of the drug (Aregood, JT). Accordingly, the number of people arrested would decrease, the justice system can save their time and money dealing with the issue. Additionally, the State can generate up to $300 million in sales tax revenue.
Accordingly, New Jersey should move to legalize marijuana for recreational use. From the fiscal point of view, it makes sense to legalize marijuana since the revenue collected from the sale, and money saved by the law enforcement eases the spending on taxpayers’ funds. Additionally, when examining information one can demonstrate that there is no evidence suggesting that cannabis is more than or as dangerous as other legalized drugs such as alcohol and tobacco. In fact, the review article “Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana,” shows that many the medicinal benefits of the drug have long been overlooked despite the clear evidence from several doctors (Zuger, Abigail). Consequently, the author’s intentions are to demonstrate, from his own experience as a doctor, the benefits of cannabis in easing the pain associated with most chronic ailments.
In conclusion, while opponents of the legalization of marijuana place their claims on assumptions and the stereotypical ideas of weed smokers, most of their claims are not backed by science – starting with the reason for marijuana’s prohibition. However, from the fiscal point of view, legalizing marijuana in New Jersey would present the country with an alternative source of revenue they can use to develop other sectors of the economy. More evidence of this possibility shows that the states where weed is legal are reaping the rewards, especially from the financial viewpoint. Furthermore, the issues of social justice concerning “criminals” harboring weed would cease in the public domain across New Jersey. All in all, the overwhelming evidence supporting the benefits of marijuana makes a case for the legalization of Marijuana in New Jersey.
Zuger, Abigail. “Review: ‘Stoned: A Doctor’s Case for Medical Marijuana’.” Nytimes.com, 2015, https://www.nytimes.com/2015/09/08/science/review-stoned-a-doctors-case-for-medical-marijuana.html.
Aregood, JT. “Scutari Unveils Bill to Legalize Marijuana in NJ” Observer.com, 2017. http://observer.com/2017/05/scutari-unveils-bill-to-legalize-marijuana-in-nj/
Gupta, Sanjay. “Why I Changed My Mind on Weed.” Cnn.com, 2013, http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/08/health/gupta-changed-mind-marijuana/index.html