Commentary By: Nazmul Noyim, Follow South Jersey Intern
New Jersey legalized the recreational use of the much controversial drug marijuana last year, on the day after “420,” the “high holiday” of the substance consumers. Adults 21 and over can legally buy marijuana This much anticipated move gives residents a safer alternative substance that can have a positive impact in South Jersey.
Just a year after legalization, the first recreational marijuana dispensary opened in Atlantic City on Thursday, 4/20. MPX which was only a licensed medical marijuana dispensary will now also be selling recreational marijuana.
This drug is most commonly known as weed or pot but there are many more nicknames, such as, dope, bud, grass, ganga, mary jane and hash. Some refer to it as “the devil’s lettuce” and it is widely recognized as “the gateway drug,” which means it will lead its consumers to start experimenting with harder drugs.
So how can the legalization of recreational use of this drug with a bad reputation have a positive impact in our communities?
Sure, abusing any substances is bad, and too much of anything can ultimately be a bad thing. According to drug abuse statistics, 1 out of 6 individuals under the age of 18 who smoke marijuana are likely to be addicted but it is much less addictive compared to other drugs like heroin, cocaine, meth, and even alcohol. And it is also the least harmful out of the other drugs because the number of deaths in the United States caused by marijuana overdose is basically zero. On the other hand, the CDC reports that there are about 88,000 alcohol-related overdose deaths in the country, and half of them are due to binge drinking.
With the legalization of weed, the number of dispensaries in South Jersey that will now sell it for recreational use is likely to increase. Now there is a legal and safer alternate option to alcohol for residents.
Further, crime may slightly reduce due to more marijuana use and less alcohol. According to a study from PubMed, couples that use marijuana had the lowest intimate partner violence, and male spouses that use marijuana are least likely to be violent. Alcohol, however, can be more likely to enable violent acts. Choosing weed over other substances like alcohol can decrease certain violent crimes.
This green plant may be decriminalized in many states but it is still illegal on the federal level. According to a Pew Research Center article, police officers made about 663 thousand arrests across the county for marijuana possession. With recreational use being legal in New Jersey, there will be much fewer marijuana related arrests, and charges.
Lastly, the legalization of recreational marijuana has increased tax revenue, more money in the economy, and more jobs. According to the state Treasury Department, New Jersey collected more than $7.7 million in tax revenue from cannabis sales from July to September of July 2022. The increased tax revenue is due to the spike in recreational sales of about $117 million in the third quarter of the year. There are about 20 dispensaries in New Jersey that sell recreational marijuana, and there will likely be more in the future, which will create more jobs and career opportunities.
Drug use is not ideal in society but realistically a percentage of people will consume some form of drugs, and the best option would be marijuana. The legalization of recreational marijuana gives the people an alternate drug choice to alcohol which is far more harmful. And this can possibly lead to less crime, more tax revenue, and certainly less overdose.
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