NJ Gov Christie Likely to Veto Pro-Pot Legislation

There is a bill in the New Jersey Legislature that would legalize marijuana use and subject it to taxation – legislation modeled on the Colorado and Washington state referenda that resulted in those states legalizing pot earlier this year.

It is unclear at this point whether the New Jersey legislation will get a hearing or, if it does, whether it will win approval of both houses of the Legislature. The governor has already said he would veto the effort, which could shut down debate – after all, some might say, why waste our time.

But we should have the debate. Polls show a slow shift toward support for decriminalization and away from outright prohibition, though there remains only modest support for legalization. (See Eagleton poll here and Monmouth poll here.)

And there are a lot of issues that need to be addressed: How would cannabis production, sale and use be regulated? How can dosages be normalized and users be made aware of variations? How do we keep pot out of the hands of kids? And should we "decarcerate" those now doing time on possession and low-level distribution charges?

The New York Times offers an interesting starting point today, with its Room for Debate feature. In five short essays, the Times covers several of these questions and sets the table for others to be addressed, such as how we ensure that legitimate research is done on pot's physiological, economic and societal impacts, without the politics interfering.

Until recently, we have allowed cliches and stereotypes either to steer the debate or foreclose the possibility of talking altogether. We need to do the research, have the discussion and be open to what the evidence tells us.

Go to NJ State Page
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