In a letter authored by Governor Phil Murphy which is addressed to Democrats in New Jersey, and emailed by the New Jersey Democratic State Committee this morning, Murphy seeks support for the passage of public question #1 on the November ballot. Question #1, if approved, would legalize adult-use marijuana in the Garden State. Anybody 21 years of age could legally use the drug.
The Governor points to “serious, lasting damage to our state, especially to the 35,000 mostly young, Black and Hispanic residents who are arrested for possession of marijuana every year.” Support for the ballot question remains steady, with various polls over the past few months showing 60 percent or more polled in favor of legalization, either strongly or somewhat.
Governor Murphy continues to tout legalization as a way to boost New Jersey’s economy, which has been ravaged by COVID-19 restrictions, shutting down businesses and increasing unemployment.
In early September, all 21 of New Jersey’s Republican Party Chairs voted to oppose the ballot question, saying that the new cannabis industry may not bring in significant tax revenues, and that increased marijuana use could pose a public health threat.
Hudson County GOP Chairman Jose Arango, who was recently elected Chair of Chairs for the state’s Republican County Chairmen’s Association, says the Association has unanimously passed a resolution opposing the ballot question. Arango stated, “If legal marijuana is so popular, why are you going to amend the Constitution?”
Here is a copy of the letter the Governor signed, which was emailed to Democrats today:
When I first announced my campaign for Governor, legalizing adult-use marijuana was one of my top priorities. It was as clear then as it is now — marijuana prohibition causes serious, lasting damage to our state, especially to the 35,000 mostly young, Black and Hispanic residents who are arrested for possession of marijuana every year. In fact, Black residents are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than White residents. Legalization would right those wrongs while also spurring massive economic development opportunities, job creation, and new tax revenue.
Now, we have the opportunity to get this done and finally legalize adult-use marijuana here in the Garden State, and I need your help to make it happen. Vote Yes on Public Question #1 on your ballot.
It has taken longer than we hoped to get to this point. Many well-meaning leaders have their reasons for opposing legalization, and we take their objections seriously. But the overwhelming evidence points to a clear reality that this is something we must do to make our state both stronger and fairer. Consider for example:
New Jersey spends about $147 million a year on the legal processing of marijuana possession and makes 35,000 annual arrests. Using our public safety dollars for marijuana arrests doesn’t make us any safer. By legalizing adult-use marijuana, we can free up police resources to focus on serious, violent and unsolved crimes, and reinvest those saved dollars into social services.
Our current marijuana laws can ruin lives based on one decision. Under current law, a person can land in jail over marijuana – with a criminal record that stigmatizes them for life and can make it harder to get a job, an apartment or a credit card; to adopt a child; or to visit one’s own children. Legalization has the potential to remove unfairly harsh punishments now suffered by entire families due to marijuana offenses.
Over the past decade, 11 other states and Washington, DC have all legalized adult-use marijuana. These states have not faced significant health or safety problems, have raised billions of dollars for vital public services, and have been able to focus law enforcement on more serious and violent crimes. We know that marijuana legalization works – and passing this ballot measure will allow New Jersey to take advantage of everything that we’ve learned from the states that went before us.
Voting Yes on Public Question #1 will legalize marijuana for adult use, while also creating a new regulatory structure to make sure operators are following the law and ensure that minors are not able to purchase the product. Legalization will not be the end of the story — there is more work to do, particularly in expunging past marijuana-related offenses.
This is our chance to make history in New Jersey, and it’s all up to you. Vote Yes on Public Question #1. You may need to turn over your Vote by Mail ballot or flip to the second page to find Public Questions, so make sure to examine your ballot carefully.
Governor Phil Murphy
In addition to Washington, D.C., the states which have legalized adult-use, recreational marijuana over the past decade are Illinois, Michigan, Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.
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