Colorado Shows Why Legalized Marijuana is Wrong for New Jersey
By Former Assemblywoman Mary Pat Angelini
Imagine a world in which tourists visit Monmouth County towns like Asbury Park not for the beaches and historic boardwalk but to get stoned on super potent “legal” marijuana. Homeless young people flocking to our area to do drugs without fear of repercussions. Stores in downtown Red Bank or Freehold offering an array of pot-laced products like candy bars and ice cream which not only lure adult users but are also quite appealing to children.
But these are nothing more than far-fetched scenarios perpetuated by the “Reefer Madness” crowd, right? Wrong. These are actual real-life issues taking places in states like Colorado which are being forced to confront the very real and very harmful consequences of legal marijuana. And they could happen here in New Jersey if a recently announced coalition succeeds in its efforts to legalize marijuana in our state.
Despite the recent successes of the legalization forces, there is little debate among the medical and scientific community that marijuana is a harmful, addictive drug which is why legalization is opposed by nearly all of the country’s major public health associations.
Nonetheless, many states have bowed to the legalization push for a variety of reason, including the promise of untold millions in tax revenues from legalized pot as well as a presumed reduction in law enforcement costs. Unfortunately, many of these hoped for benefits have not lived up to the rosy predictions of the pro-pot advocates.
In fact, Colorado sales tax revenues have fallen well short of expectations and, according to the state’s Attorney General, Colorado still has a vibrant marijuana black market and many marijuana-related crimes have not decreased. It’s no wonder why officials have publicly stated marijuana legalization is “not worth it”.
Moreover, those pushing legalization rarely mention—nor do they dispute—the significant effects that marijuana has on its users and, in particular, on young people. For instance, they don’t talk about the high school students who told researchers that they are more likely to use marijuana if it were legal. Nor do they talk about how heavy pot use impairs the developing brain or the 1 in 6 young people who become addicted to this drug.
Instead they like to point to other states and focus on the supposed cost savings, increased tax revenues or benefits to society as a whole—all of which have proven elusive to states like Colorado that have already gone down this dangerous path.
Legalization advocates say they will look to other states’ experiences with legal pot and policymakers in New Jersey, including my colleagues in the Legislature, would be wise to do the same. What they will surely find is that legalizing marijuana is wrong for New Jersey and, like they found out in Colorado, is just not worth it.