In the last ten years, New Jersey taxpayers spent over one billion dollars to enforce federal marijuana possession laws.
To underscore the misplaced commitment to eradicate weed, the state in 2016 became the top marijuana cop nationally. Under the initiative of Governor Murphy, New Jersey has abandoned enforcement and embrace marijuana as a reasonable citizen that is capable of paying its way. His argument is quite simple: the federal position of marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance equates it to heroin or cocaine is erroneous. Simple use of herion can kill the user, creating insufficient blood supply to the brain and organs; respiratory system shut down after falling asleep; instigates deadly infection endocarditis on the heart’s surface and kidney failure. Heroin is extremely addictive, more so than sugar and artificial sweeteners. As for the lowly weed to kill, the user would have to “smoke” 150 pounds of marijuana over a three-day period to duplicate the same results from 75 and 375 mg. of heroin. According to the American Chemistry Society, drinking 6 liters of water would kill a 165-pound person.
The federal government has the same research, why has it ignored the facts? Indeed, marijuana’s profile is less invasive than alcoholic beverages at par with beer, water, and sugar. Such actualities relate to recreational marijuana use. As a medicinal ingredient, its use has profound values and practice applications, scientifically confirmed. The federal government has these truths but acts as if it mind-deaf.
Merely on a Cost Savings Analysis, legitimization of marijuana would save New Jersey $127 million per year, as declared in a 2013 American Civil Liberties Union report. Using government databases of criminal justice expenditures, the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report and Census data, the ACLU report provides three estimates for each state; one low, one middle and one high. Those figures are based on 2010 statistics. For New Jersey, $127 million was the average estimate for the cost of policing, judiciary and corrections. The report sets $17 million for incarceration costs for New Jersey, which is high because people arrested for marijuana possession do not ordinarily get locked up. Such figures are not offset by fines and court costs, which at nearly $26 million. The ACLU of New Jersey updated that estimate in a 2017 report to $143 million. The final analysis of this date --- “Enforcement of our marijuana possession laws is a tremendous drain on state resources,” the ACLU report read.
It is worth repeating: Enforcement of its possession laws remains an excessive burden on the state’s resources. Taxpayers are entitled to a level playing field by reaping the benefit of a taxable commodity. Recreational marijuana legalization should be a significant revenue generator, not to be enforced by the antiquated federal mandate.
Why should New Jersey pay for a federal mistake?