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Marijuana taxes should benefit all of New Jersey


the staff of the Ridgewood blog

Asbury Park NJ, The following editorial by Senator Robert Singer (R-30) was published by the Asbury Park Press on November 29, 2020:

New Jersey residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of a constitutional amendment to legalize the personal use of cannabis by adults. While the legislation to establish a legal market and regulatory scheme for marijuana was expected to be a slam dunk after the ballot measure was approved by a 2-to-1 margin, disagreements over a slew of concerns have caused the process to stall.

Democrats in the Legislature are now squabbling over everything – how much to tax marijuana, how they will split the money, how best to expunge prior convictions, and even whether to lower penalties for “magic mushrooms.”

They’re fighting over adding more taxes on legal pot – in addition to the State and local sales taxes explicitly approved by voters – that could lead to tax rates of 20 to 40 percent or higher for consumers. Republicans have warned that an excessive tax burden could undermine the legal marketplace and lead to lower tax revenues than expected.

It seems the public’s hope for a quick, painless legalization process have gone up in smoke. Given this extra time, however, we should consider the public good that a responsible utilization of marijuana tax revenues could provide.

While Democrats are trying to direct virtually all the tax revenues resulting from legalization to a handful of urban centers they represent to address “social justice” concerns, I believe there are broader challenges that impact New Jerseyans in every community that must be addressed.

For example, overdose deaths, which have been rising precipitously for years, have soared during the pandemic. State officials reported an increase in fatalities of more than 20% in the first six weeks of the COVID outbreak.

The impact of addiction is real in every city, town, and neighborhood, and across all social boundaries, including race, gender, and economic status. Members of every subcategory can — and do — become hooked, and too many of them die.

That’s why I believe a portion of marijuana tax revenues should be dedicated to funding opioid and drug abuse treatment and prevention programs. This would save lives and help free individuals from addiction.

Similarly, there are other critical areas where these funds could provide a broader public benefit that also are experiencing significant spikes due to the pressures and stresses of the COVID pandemic.

Suicide awareness and prevention initiatives and mental health services are chronically underfunded, and demand for counseling and assistance has never been higher.

The Kaiser Family Foundation published an eye-opening report recently, noting that “the coronavirus pandemic and resulting economic downturn have taken a toll on mental health for many people, with over 30% of adults in the U.S. now reporting symptoms consistent with an anxiety and/or depressive disorder.”

The foundation said 20% report needing, but not receiving, mental health counseling or therapy.

The tensions exerted by the pandemic — including job loss and instability, financial distress, family disruption related to educational changes and online instruction, and loneliness and isolation for those who live alone — have been damaging to the psyche of even the most robust New Jerseyans.

It is estimated that in the Garden State, almost one of five adults suffer from mental illness. For many, the need for counseling or therapy is unmet due to a lack of resources. Individuals who need help are not being evaluated, and those who have diagnoses struggle to find care.

Things will only get worse this holiday season as the virus interferes with the usual gatherings of family and friends. For many, joy and excitement are being replaced by anxiety and depression.

We can do better. An influx of funding from legal cannabis transactions could go a long way to supporting these important needs which will continue long after the coronavirus has passed.

Unfortunately, Democrats in Trenton continue to fight among themselves with the intent of funneling much of the pot tax revenue to their own towns and interests, while ignoring statewide needs such as these.

The shared benefits of the tax revenue windfall that was promised to New Jerseyans as a result of legalization will likely not be realized in many places. Communities across New Jersey will be stuck with substantial increased costs related to legalized marijuana oversight and enforcement with little State support, leading to higher bills for many property taxpayers.

If Trenton doesn’t start thinking about the good of the entire state, they’ll have done something unfathomable. They’ll be the first people in history to make selling pot a money losing venture.

The Legislature has one shot to get legalizing marijuana right, and to do so in a way that benefits every New Jersey resident and every community.

13 thoughts on “Marijuana taxes should benefit all of New Jersey

  1. They’re going to make a lot of money. At least our governor and that’s it.

  2. By the time everyone gets their cut in this state, prices will be so high that the black market will continue to thrive. Ill still meet my guy in Van Neste Square or at the Starbucks until the pricing is in line with the market.

  3. By the time everyone gets their cut in this socialist state, prices will be so high that the black market will continue to thrive. Ill still meet my guy in Van Neste Square or at the Starbucks until the pricing is in line with the market.

  4. There was an initial feeling of progress by the people who enjoy marijuana, but the reality is that the vast majority of users have resumed business-as-usual with their dealers due to better pricing. There is absolutely no way legal sellers can compete with black market sellers due to all the overhead costs and taxes.

  5. The memory is always the first thing to go.

    Poor anon. He had such potential!

  6. Excellent…
    Having everyone stoned should make voter fraud easier in the future.

    I love it when a plan comes together.

  7. Guys selling weed in the ridgewood garage will make more money. They can raise prices and still undercut retail.

  8. Why should marijuana revenue be used for a coronavirus-related bailout? And if the argument is that marijuana revenue should be used to fund programs related to opioid abuse, like it or not then that will still disproportionately go to Dem cities/counties.

  9. “social justice” see the attached. Don’t be fooled legalizing pot is the answer to the problems in the black community.

    watch both videos.

  10. “Don’t be fooled legalizing pot is the answer to the problems in the black community.”

    Legalizing pot is designed to KEEP minorities on the Democrat Plantation…. too many of them were starting to rise up and be self sufficient under the Trump administration policies… and we CANNOT let that stand.

  11. Actually legalizing pot is designed to make the blacks think the Democrats are doing something for them. It’s a giant myth blacks are in jail because of pot.
    Do you realize how many serious crimes it takes before they put you in jail?

  12. “It’s a giant myth blacks are in jail because of pot.”

    It isn’t just about incarceration. It costs money to beat a drug charge. And getting arrested certainly increases one’s chance of getting incarcerated. You have a woeful misunderstanding of how America works.

  13. When are the people of N.J. going to get smart and vote out every Democrat we all thought legalized marijuana would help with the two biggest issues in the state the state debt and high property taxes. It is time for the north east counties of N.J. to become part of New York and the rest of New Jersey becomes New New Jersey because the people in north west ,central and southern not want the the north east counties to dictate their politics to us its our money also.

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