With recent polls indicating bipartisan majority support for legalizing marijuana, New Jersey has continued its momentum toward ending pot prohibition with an official “get out the vote” endorsement from the Garden State’s governor.
The New Jersey Democratic State Committee fired off an email blast this week in which longtime pro-pot Gov. Phil Murphy explicitly urged residents to vote “yes” on Public Question #1, the ballot initiative that would “legalize the possession and use of marijuana for persons age 21 and older and legalize the commercial cultivation, processing, and sale of retail marijuana.”
“When I first announced my campaign for Governor, legalizing adult-use marijuana was one of my top priorities,” Murphy wrote. “It was as clear then as it is now — marijuana prohibition causes serious, lasting damage to our state, especially to the 35,000 mostly young, Black and Hispanic residents who are arrested for possession of marijuana every year. In fact, Black residents are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than White residents. Legalization would right those wrongs while also spurring massive economic development opportunities, job creation, and new tax revenue.”
Calling legalization “something we must do to make our state both stronger and fairer,” Murphy stated, “New Jersey spends about $147 million a year on the legal processing of marijuana possession and makes 35,000 annual arrests. Using our public safety dollars for marijuana arrests doesn’t make us any safer. By legalizing adult-use marijuana, we can free up police resources to focus on serious, violent and unsolved crimes, and reinvest those saved dollars into social services.”
Noting the overall human toll, Murphy wrote, “Our current marijuana laws can ruin lives based on one decision. Under current law, a person can land in jail over marijuana – with a criminal record that stigmatizes them for life and can make it harder to get a job, an apartment or a credit card; to adopt a child; or to visit one’s own children. Legalization has the potential to remove unfairly harsh punishments now suffered by entire families due to marijuana offenses.”
“We know that marijuana legalization works,” Murphy wrote in summation, “and passing this ballot measure will allow New Jersey to take advantage of everything that we’ve learned from the states that went before us… Legalization will not be the end of the story — there is more work to do, particularly in expunging past marijuana–related offenses.”