Chris Christie recently vowed that he will not decriminalize, legalize or expand medical marijuana under his watch.
Here is why legalizing marijuana is a bad idea:
(1) the tax revenues won’t nearly be as high as proponents claim they’ll be
(2) if the tax rate is too high, it will encourage the black market sale of marijuana
(3) if the tax rate is too low, it will encourage people from neighboring states to come to NJ, buy pot and then go sell it in their state (Colorado is trying to find the sweet spot between points (2) and (3) on my list)
(4) legalized marijuana means more people will do it. this will lead to more people that are addicted to it. I don’t think anyone can sensibly deny that it is an addicting drug
(5) last year, almost 3 million Americans were arrested for underage drinking. if we legalized marijuana, we will see an increase in the number of people arrested for underage marijuana use. this will also require more police. once you hire police, they stay hired (you don’t temporarily hire them).
(6) the underage people that are more likely to get off from their marijuana charges are (drum roll please)….white males from upper middle class (or better) families. this would just reenforce the social inequality aspect of marijuana arrests that proponents are trying to alleviate (and that can be solved much more cleanly by decriminalizing marijuana)
As a clinician, I stand to make more money if marijuana is legalized. I’ll see more people in treatment and have to write more reports for court cases. Despite the fact that I would make significantly more money, I am against marijuana legalization. Many people that are pro-legalization stand to make a lot of money off of it. Be wary of them.
All that said, marijuana has been legalized in Colorado and Washington. There is no need to rush to change the policies in our (or any other) state. Let’s see what happens over the next 3 years in Colorado before we make any public policy changes. We are going to get a lot of data from Colorado. I expect that the tax revenues will not be as high as expected, that there will be an increase in motor vehicle accidents, that more people will be admitted to treatment for marijuana and that more people will be arrested for marijuana. I am willing to admit I’m wrong in the face of good data and will publicly recant my positions. I strongly doubt that will happen though.