Legalize Marijuana

Adam Kahn, Staff Writer

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New Jersey has recently taken steps to decriminalize possession and use of marijuana. On May 21, 2012, a bill was introduced to reduce the legal consequences of recreational use or possession of marijuana from a crimminal to a civil offense. NJ had previously legalized the use of marijuana for medical use. On June 4, 2012, Governor Cuomo of New York followed with his proposal for decrimminalization. There are many individuals, including myself, who feel that marijuana should be legalized completely both for recreational and medicinal use.

According to NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug, behind alcohol and tobacco. Whereas alcohol and tobacco are both legal, marijuana is not however. Enforcement of marijuana laws results in 853,000 arrests and $10 billion dollars in annual taxpayers’ dollars. The arrests for marijuana usage are more than many violent crimes including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault, combined. Taxpayers’ dollars should not go toward arresting marijuana users.

Furthermore, the legalization of marijuana would resolve much of the national debt. According to the NORML website at,  14 million people in the U.S. alone use marijuana regularly. If it were to be legalized, it could be taxable and the government would make money off of it. This would follow the same model used after the repeal of prohibition when tax on alcohol gave money back to the government. Legalization of marijuana would also help reduce crime among gangs and drug dealers. If the drug is sold over the counter, it would no longer need to be sold illegally, which will eliminate the need for dealers and violence.

The latest bill passed bythe NJ Judiciary Committee says that anyone arrested with fewer than 15 grams of marijuana, which is about a half an ounce or slightly more than 30 joints (marijuana cigarettes), would be subject to a $150 fine for the first offense, $200 fine for the second offense, and a $300 fine for the third and subsequent offenses. This bill now moves to the full assembly, the legislative chambers and then Governor Christie for final approval.

Hopefully, marijuana will one day be legalized completely. As for now, marijuana advocates will continue to fight for marijuana legalization until they achieve full rights.

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