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Rep. Tom MacArthur. (Photo by Nikita Biryukov)

MacArthur: Legalized marijuana would be a ‘terrible mistake’

By Nikita Biryukov, September 10 2018 2:56 pm

While some of New Jersey’s congressional delegates support state Democrats’ plans to legalize recreational marijuana, Rep. Tom MacArthur thinks it would be a potentially-lethal mistake.

“I think it’s a terrible mistake. It’s a risk we do not need to be taking,” MacArthur said at a press conference on in Burlington City on Monday. “I understand that marijuana may have some medical use, and I’m certainly ok with using it in that context, but we’re in the middle of the worst drug crisis in history, and you want to legalize more drugs?”

Gov. Phil Murphy and other Democrats in the state, including his counterparts in the legislature and statewide officials like U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, have avowed support for recreational marijuana, often citing the aim of reducing racial disparities that result from criminal penalties for marijuana use.

To MacArthur, who cited hearings of the bipartisan Heroin Task Force, of which MacArthur is chair, in which recovering opioid addicts said marijuana drew them into the more addictive drugs, such legalization efforts are misguided.

If officials are concerned about criminal justice issues, he said, they should seek to change criminal penalties for marijuana use, he said.

“The reason they’re suggesting, both the governor and Sen. Booker, has nothing to do with whether they’re harmless or not harmless – it’s all about the criminal justice system,” MacArthur said. “Well, then change the criminal justice penalties. If the state feels that the penalties for marijuana use are too high and it shouldn’t be a felony, then deal with that, but don’t just make it easier for young people to get marijuana.”

While Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin have repeatedly cited racial inequality in marijuana prosecutions as the primary reason for their proposed changes, they’re also relying on revenues from excise taxes levied on the sale of the drug to ease the state’s strained finances.

But, that justification doesn’t even come close to passing muster for MacArthur.

“I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but to justify increasing drug use that might take children’s lives because of tax revenues, that to me is the most cynical – at least I can understand the criminal justice argument, even though I think there’s a better way to get at that,” MacArthur said. “To take this kind of risk with our children’s lives for tax revenues, I think is just insane.”

It’s not clear when Democrats will finally move on their legalization efforts, as the timeline for such legalization has repeatedly changed over the last several months.

Sweeney told the New Jersey Globe last week that he and his Assembly counterpart were aiming to move the bill before the end of the month, but so far, no votes have been scheduled on the matter.

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10 thoughts on “MacArthur: Legalized marijuana would be a ‘terrible mistake’

  1. Marijuana consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Nationwide!

    It’s time for us, the majority of The People to take back control of our national marijuana policy. By voting OUT of office any and all politicians who very publicly and vocally admit to having an anti-marijuana, prohibitionist agenda! Time to vote’em all OUT of office. Period. Plain and simple.

    Politicians who continue to demonize Marijuana, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Marijuana possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through Marijuana home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called “Addiction Specialists” who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose marijuana, – Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don’t have one.

    The People have spoken! Get on-board with Marijuana Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

  2. The ol’ marijuana is a gateway drug line again is it?

    Can some one get these guys some new materials and a calendar , it’s 2018.

  3. Yes, sir. We would like to legalize a ‘drug’ that could actually help solve this drug crisis. Educate yourself on the subject before rolling all substances into one negative idea. If you still think cannabis is a deadly substance you are an uninformed fool.

    On the subject of heroin users blaming marijuana. Anybody with additive tendencies can place blame on any abused substance or even behavior. What about alcohol? Can we shame another substance as an excuse for new behavior? You may find that ridiculous, but I avoid alcohol, as it’s actually worse for you than marijuana. Prove me wrong, I’d love for that to happen at lease once.

  4. We are in a drug crisis precisely because opiates are illegal. A user can’t be sure of dose or purity. Alcohol Prohibition had similar results with blindness and death.

    I LOVE Republicans who can’t learn from history. Supposedly they are the most historically astute Party

  5. From the article:

    >>>”MacArthur said… “we’re in the middle of the worst drug crisis in history, and you want to legalize more drugs?”

    It’s simple-minded to think all drugs are equal. – We don’t have the same alcohol policy, as we do tobacco policy, as we do caffeine policy. Each drug has different levels of harm and requires a different regulatory approach. No one thought it necessary to discuss opium when they were debating ending alcohol prohibition.

    Science and widespread experience have shown marijuana has no significant harms. – Every person who chooses near harmless marijuana over addictive, very harmful alcohol, improves their health tremendously – as well as the lives of their family and community.

    >>>”to justify increasing drug use that might take children’s lives”

    Holy cow! – First, no one has ever died from consuming marijuana in all of recorded history. Second, teen marijuana use has FALLEN in the states that have re-legalized. – It is the counter-productive PROHIBITION that puts marijuana into children’s hands, in their schools, parks and playgrounds. – Legal, licensed vendors don’t sell to minors.

    How ignorant! – Or just hiding his bigotry – and/or prohibition profiteer donors – behind bogus excuses.

  6. Please, Tom, stop listening to law enforcement, drug testing companies and others who ride the gravy train of pot prohibition.

    I’m a 75-year old Republican, former Navy Officer and grandparent who learned 50 years ago that reefer madness claims are not true. You are hurting the Party, especially among younger voters.

    What “terrible mistakes” do you see in states that legalized? Tens of thousands of fewer people (mostly minorities) dragged into the criminal justice system? Thousands of legal, tax-paying jobs created? Lower rates of teen use? Fewer traffic fatalities (which have dropped 10% in Nevada since legalization)?

    You’re making a fool of yourself.

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