Market Date:27 February, 2021

NJ cities buck marijuana legalization

As marijuana legalization inches ahead in New Jersey, a coalition of mayors, regulation enforcement, and city councils are working to make sure that dispensaries by no means open up store of their cities.

The municipalities banning marijuana are geographically and demographically various with essentially the most concentrated areas of opposition in Bergen County and the Jersey Shore. Thus far, greater than 45 cities have preemptively banned marijuana dispensaries, and the checklist continues to develop.

Supporting this coalition is Accountable Approaches to Marijuana Coverage (NJ RAMP), the state department of essentially the most highly effective anti-marijuana lobbying group within the nation.  “If you legalize recreational marijuana, you will see homelessness go up, you will see people losing their jobs, you will see more ‘drugged driving,’ you will see more accidents, and more deaths,” Stephen Reid, govt director of NJ RAMP.

Teams like NJ RAMP distribute truth sheets to native officers citing the damaging results of marijuana legalization in Colorado. Based on their knowledge, marijuana-related site visitors deaths elevated by 151 p.c since 2013. However supporters of legalization, just like the ACLU,  dispute these numbers. They declare Colorado has not been monitoring these incidents lengthy sufficient to indicate causality, and since THC stays within the physique for as much as 30 days, drivers might take a look at optimistic for THC even when they aren’t presently underneath the affect.

Opponents of marijuana are primarily involved with stoned driving and other people underneath 21 acquiring simpler entry to pot. However one other concern amongst officers is a concern that marijuana dispensaries will entice undesirable guests to their city.

“Woodcliff Lake is a quaint little town, and it’s not a place for dispensaries to open up,” stated Mayor Carlos Rendo. He fears dispensaries will put a pressure on social providers and enhance charges of homelessness, although he acknowledged that homelessness shouldn’t be a problem in Woodcliff Lake presently.  

One other concern is that marijuana dispensaries will entice drug sellers from neighboring areas who would wish to undercut the authorized market. Ringwood Police Chief Joe Walker can be involved that leisure marijuana would have a damaging affect on the opioid disaster, which has hit cities like Ringwood particularly onerous.  “I’ve been to opioid overdoses eight times since I’ve been chief,” Walker stated. “Every time there’s marijuana present. And every drug counselor would say that everyone started with marijuana.”

This is named the “gateway drug theory” which has progressively fallen out of favor for the reason that 1980s. Based on a 2017 research by the Drug Coverage Alliance, “the vast majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other illicit drugs.”  

Because the checklist of cities banning marijuana continues to develop, assist for legalization stays excessive. A latest Rutgers College Ballot discovered practically 60 p.c assist leisure marijuana for adults.

A legalization invoice is anticipated to proceed to wind its method via the New Jersey State Legislature in 2019, and supporters in each homes in addition to the governor stay optimistic the invoice will move. If it does, cities could have 180 days to determine whether or not or to not permit dispensaries to open inside their borders.