Before voting on ballot question 1, residents need to consider the significant downside of legalizing recreational marijuana, which is scarcely reported by the media. Many studies by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), US Dept. of Health & Human Services (HHS), and the World Health Organization (WHO) all confirm the psychoactive ingredient in pot, THC, causes many types of mental and physiological health problems, especially in children and young adults.

Nearly every psychiatric and health organization in the country, including the Surgeon General, oppose legalizing recreational marijuana. Why are New Jersey politicians pushing this? They’re hungry for another source of tax revenue, of course, but at the expense of citizen’s health, and children’s health in particular.

States that have legalized recreational weed have all seen large increases in adolescence use despite the minimum age (21) to purchase it. Is this increase desired from responsible New Jersey parents of grade school and high school kids? I think not. The added expense and societal impact of increased adolescent use, emergency room visits, poison control calls and drug rehabilitation and counseling (using your tax dollars) will surpass any revenue gains. Traffic fatalities in Colorado have increased 31% since legalization and the increase directly coincides with marijuana use, a study by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area found. In 2018, 23% of traffic fatalities in Colorado involved a driver who tested positive for marijuana, the study found.

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Although social justice has been tied to legalization, due to people of color being arrested at a higher rate, it’s noteworthy that inner city legislators in Trenton oppose legalization, including state Sen. Ron Rice, representing parts of Newark and Irvington.

He wrote the following in a 2019 opinion piece published by NJ Advance Media:

When I hear my colleagues pushing for legalization ‘in the name of social justice,’ I can’t apologize for my instinct to suspect that it’s really about helping political friends profit from an industry that should not be allowed a foothold in our state. I call on every black legislative, municipal, civil rights and faith leader in New Jersey to speak out against legalization.”

Thanks to our Governor and some politicians the stigma of smoking weed has lessened, but the societal and medical issues caused by it are real. Why have over 50 NJ towns preemptively banned the sale of reefer in their towns? Because the downside of legal pot outweighs any perceived benefits. Voters need to examine both sides of legalization and will likely come to this conclusion as well. Vote No on #1.

Bill West
Westfield, NJ