Considerations on the Proposed Marijuana Amendment
This November, and earlier, considering mail-in ballots, voters are casting votes to amend the New Jersey Constitution to allow recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 or older, or as many refer to it, cannabis.
Here are some general facts about marijuana and the legalization process that may require more consideration.
- Marijuana has been a Schedule 1 drug that has been outlawed for any use under the Controlled Substances Act since 1970. It is a drug that has not been researched and regulated by the government and therefore there is presently very little research on any benefits of cannabis. While several states have legalized its use in different capacities, it is still illegal federally.
- While law enforcement is able to test for driving under the influence of alcohol, it is much harder to measure the effects on drivers who have been using marijuana, because each body processes the drug differently. Since recreational marijuana was legalized in 2013 in Colorado, traffic deaths where drivers tested positive for marijuana increased 135% while all Colorado traffic deaths increased by 24%.
- Dosing varies among dispensary personnel, often called budtenders. Many budtenders give recommended dosages and treatment on a variety of conditions that range from insomnia, seizures, diabetes, etc., often using anecdotal evidence for their suggestions. Training standards for their practice varies, as there is not a federal regulatory standard for the cannabis industry. A University of Colorado survey of marijuana dispensaries found that a high percentage of budtenders surveyed made recommendations for cannabis use during pregnancy. These recommendations are not based on research or scientific information.
- Many compare the legalization of marijuana to the legal use of alcohol by adults. Treating alcohol and marijuana substances the same way may lead to inconsistencies in policy. Alcohol is taxed- as well as marijuana in 33 states. While taxes may be able to stimulate the economy, most money from marijuana dispensaries cannot be deposited into federally backed financial institutions. This is because cannabis is still not legalized federally. Opponents of legalization feel that the costs of health and safety concerns that arise after legalization far outstrip any income derived from taxing marijuana. In New Jersey, municipalities can only add an additional 2% tax on marijuana sold. As it currently stands, marijuana in New Jersey will be taxed at the normal sales tax rate and not under the current "sin tax" as are other regulated items such as tobacco products, alcohol, and lottery play.
Please continue to follow our blog as we educate voters on concerns and findings about the marijuana legalization process.
Employees of Mercer Council on Alcoholism and Drug Addiction are not funded nor affiliated with any sponsors of or business with the marijuana industry, including, but not limited to, marijuana for medicinal use, cannabis for recreational use, or the CDB Market.