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Marijuana Legalization in New Jersey, Decriminalized Federally

In the 2020 elections, leaps and bounds were made for the legalization of mari- juana. Various states legalized weed both medically and recreationally. Among those states is New Jersey, a neighboring state of New York. This could be promising for the future of legalization in New York and more of the East Coast.

What does the legalization of marijua- na in New Jersey mean for the state? It means that people will stop being arrested for marijuana-related charges (as long as the amount of marijuana does not exceed six ounces), there’s a possibility for past marijuana convictions to be expunged, and there will be an increase in state funding from the sales tax on the plant. However, before this can all happen, two more bills must be passed regard- ing the logistics of decriminalizing weed/ expunging past charges as well as the process of selling recreationally. They areto be voted on December 14, with a final vote for the Senate and assembly three days later. Here’s what will happen when the bills are passed: An article from NBC New York shared that with all marijuana sales “the state’s 6.625 percent sales tax would also apply, 70 percent of which will go to a social equity fund. The remaining amount will go to police training for mar- ijuana DUIs, and to running the program itself.” This exemplifies that opening up the marijuana industry in New Jersey will certainly help the state’s economy. Start- ing, only 37 businesses will be able to grow and cultivate weed in the state. Each business will be able to open as many dispensaries as they want though, as long as the presiding town approves. In two years, the number of growers will be able to expand, opening up the industry further. In time, similar laws could be brought to New York. This could enhance the states economy as it will in New Jersey, and will make past convictions eligible for expungement. In other positive news, the House of Representatives has voted to de- criminalize marijuana federally, results coming in 228 to 164. This is the first time in history that Congress has voted on the topic of legalizing marijuana, making 2020 a landmark year for the plant. Unfortunately, the bill is not expected to pass due to fear in the po- litical world. An article from The Washington Post states that Democrats are “voting overwhelmingly to support the federal decriminalization bill and all but five Republicans opposing it.” For Republican politicians this could threaten their political future, as more and more Republican-vot- ing citizens are voting for the legalization of marijuana alongside their Democratic counterparts. “68 percent of Americans said the use of mar- ijuana should be legal, the highest support for marijuana legalization since the polling organization first asked in 1969,” says The Washington Post. Federally decriminalizing marijuana would not solve all of the prob- lems that the War on Drugs has created, but it would potentially expunge marijuana records dating back to 1971 and would most definitely ease tensions between state and federal law enforcement. Times are changing and it is time the government caught up with the American people.

Photo: Emily Peacock

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