The ability to generate a substantial amount of revenue by taxing marijuana is what ultimately attracts most states to consider legalization. However, the state of New Jersey will not be foiled by the greed attached to the budding cannabis industry, according to recent comments by Governor Chris Christie, who told state officials last week that collecting proceeds from the cannabis industry was no different than accepting “blood money.”
“This should not be permitted in our society, it sends the wrong message,” said Christie. “Every bit of objective data tells us that it’s a gateway drug to other drugs. And it is not an excuse in our society to say that alcohol is legal so why not make marijuana legal… Well… why not make heroin legal? Why not make cocaine legal? You know, their argument is a slippery slope.”
The governor’s hardheaded remarks were made last Wednesday during a ribbon cutting ceremony for a drug treatment facility on the Jersey Shore. In his speech, Christie told a group of law enforcement officials and substance abuse administrators that incorporating marijuana into the state’s economic situation was like accepting “blood money,” and he was not willing to risk the well-being of the children to put more wealth into the state’s reserves.
“And as long as I’m governor of New Jersey, there won’t be legalized marijuana in this state,” Christie continued, adding that the pursuit of tax riches has been mostly unsuccessful because marijuana businesses do not consist of “the most compliant taxpayers in the world.”
Accusing the cannabis industry of being crooked is Christie’s way of using recent data into Colorado’s first year of recreational sales to point out the discrepancies between the predicted payoff and the actual take. State officials anticipated that Colorado would generate around $100 million in tax revenue during its first year, but the figures came up short – $44 million – which led some to suggest that the pot market’s cash-only affairs were cheating the state.
However, New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, the organization lobbying for the legalization of a statewide cannabis market, argues that Governor Christie’s politics on the issue of marijuana reform is doing more harm than good – keeping the black market alive, while throwing otherwise innocent people in jail.
“Right now, revenue from marijuana sales goes to street corner dealers and drug cartels, which are thriving in the unregulated marketplace,” the group wrote in a recent statement. “The real harms from marijuana in (New Jersey) are the tens of thousands of lives damaged each year by the discriminatory arrest practices that have grown under Gov. Christie’s watch. If the governor truly wants to reduce the harms of marijuana, he should support government regulation and control.”
The slippery slope Governor Christie speaks of “will put an end to the tremendous harms caused by our current laws, create jobs, increase public safety, and generate millions of dollars in revenue to fund projects that help all New Jerseyans, including evidence-based drug prevention and treatment strategies and reinvestment in communities,” according to the coalition.
New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform consists of members of the ACLU, law enforcement officials and other influential members of the community. The group recently announced plans to put the governor’s anti-pot politics down like a bad dog by seeking out and assisting with the development of legislation to legalize recreational marijuana.