Election 2018 is playing center stage in New Jersey as the next installment in the evolving drama of marijuana legalization.
A patchwork of communities has adopted bans on recreational and medical marijuana sale in anticipation of a state law that would legalize cannabis sales for recreational use. Paradoxically, driving the "no" parade are Democrat communities, with the plurality of its citizens complaining about skyrocketing property taxes, while Governor Phil Murphy is pushing for lower taxes with marijuana excise fees. On average in the past ten years, property taxes in New Jersey have increased by 21% with no relief in sight. Meanwhile, states like Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and Nevada had lowered property taxes since the introduction of recreational marijuana and recorded no significant spike in adverse reactions or crimes related to marijuana sales.
Apparently, the controlling Democrats in Elmwood Park, Saddle Brook, Hasbrouck Heights, Carlstadt, Clifton, East Rutherford, Franklin Lakes, Mahwah, Midland Park, North Haledon, Wayne, Upper Saddle River, Lodi, Palisades Park, Hawthorne, Ringwood, Westwood, Woodcliff Lake and Wyckoff have all banned recreational marijuana on the "hunch" that it would instigate public upheaval. Council member in many of these towns are up for re-election. Whether or not they will pay at the ballot box remains a hot-button issue. The outcome will establish a clear direction for marijuana approval or more internal procrastination.
The noise that marijuana will sponsor more crime -- that it is a gateway drug, causes addiction, decreases motor responses, creates poor decision issues -- to instigate social disorder are not supported by the facts. Alcohol consumption has proven a greater menace. Numerous studies have confirmed that alcohol abuse is more of a significant threat. Why the double standard?
This mid-term election will answer whether New Jersey lawmakers embrace the established trends. Based on data across the country, 64 percent of Americans support legalization of marijuana. It’s not a “ghost number” according to Pew Research Center* statistics and may harbor federal approval of recreational marijuana.
The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan American fact tank based in Washington, D.C. with the US $6 billion in assets, and provides information on social issues, public opinion, and demographic trends shaping the United States and the world.