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Would Legal Marijuana Help NJ’s Economy? [AUDIO]

Last week, we told you how state Sen. Nick Scutari (D-Linden) is working on a measure that would legalize marijuana.

Marijuana
David McNew, Getty Images

Supporters believe the idea makes too much economic sense to ignore.

“It would mean we would stop arresting more than 22,000 people a year for possession of pot, and that could save us up to hundreds of millions of dollars a year in public safety budget money,” said Chris Goldstein, spokesman for the New Jersey chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.

Goldstein believes legalizing pot would also generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new, yearly tax revenues.

“That’s money that goes right back to our fire departments, our police departments and our townships right away,” Goldstein said. “In Colorado, where marijuana just became legal, more than $40 million in marijuana tax revenue is being funneled back to the school system, and I’m sure here in the state of New Jersey, a state of more than 9 million people, we could see that type of revenue come back to our schools as well if that’s where we choose to put the money.”

He also said the theory that marijuana is a gateway drug to other, more dangerous substances has proven to be untrue.

“Marijuana doesn’t fuel violent behavior, and even drivers who are somewhat intoxicated by marijuana aren’t nearly as disabled of a driver as somebody who has had too many beers in one evening,” Goldstein said. “With a regulated system, if we legalize marijuana we can create rules for who is using it, and when people do get caught driving behind the wheel and if they’re intoxicated, we’ll have a good system to evaluate that and deal with it.”

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