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Statements on Marijuana Legalization

By David Wildstein, March 12 2019 9:08 am

Governor Phil Murphy
“Legalizing adult-use marijuana is a monumental step to reducing disparities in our criminal justice system.  After months of hard work and thoughtful negotiations, I’m thrilled to announce an agreement with my partners in the Legislature on the broad outlines of adult-use marijuana legislation. I believe that this legislation will establish an industry that brings fairness and economic opportunity to all of our communities, while promoting public safety by ensuring a safe product and allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on serious crimes.”

Senate President Steve Sweeney
“This plan will allow for the adult use of cannabis in a responsible way. It will create a strictly regulated system that permits adults to purchase limited amounts of marijuana for personal use. It will bring marijuana out of the underground market so that it can be controlled, regulated and taxed, just as alcohol has been since the end of Prohibition. This plan will also advance important social justice reforms to help reverse the discriminatory impact that drug laws have had on diverse communities.”

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin
“The agreement reached to legalize adult-use cannabis is the result of incredibly hard work by many people over many months. Getting to this point wasn’t easy. We talked and we negotiated in good faith, but most importantly, we listened. I want to thank Governor Murphy and Senate President Sweeney for their tireless efforts and willingness to compromise so we could put forth the most responsible legislation possible. I believe this new, regulated industry will help boost our economy, but I’m particularly proud of the critical social justice components included in the bill.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden)
“The prohibition on marijuana has long been a failed policy. This plan will bring an end to the adverse effects our outdated drug laws have had on the residents of our state. As a regulated product, legalized marijuana will be safe and controlled. It is time to legalize adult use marijuana in New Jersey and this is a well-crafted legal reform that will advance social policy in a fair and effective way.”

Assembly Judiciary Committee Chair Annette Quijano (D-Elizabeth)
“After months of discussions and debate, I am proud that we have come to an agreement on a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis. We learned from stakeholders and listened to opponents. The final product is fair, responsible and focused on social justice. I want to thank Speaker Coughlin for his leadership in the Assembly and express my gratitude to Governor Murphy and Senate President Sweeney for partnering with us in this daunting endeavor.”

New Jersey Cannabusiness Association President Scott Rudder
“I want to thank Governor Murphy, Senate President Sweeney, Speaker Coughlin, Senator Scutari, and Assemblywoman Quijano for coming together and doing the right thing for New Jersey. The time for legalization has come. The old ‘reefer madness’ myths have been dispelled. We know legalizing recreational adult-use cannabis and expanding medical cannabis in New Jersey will address issues of social justice, help the state’s economy, and create a new, thriving workforce.  It is time. Time to bring New Jersey in line with other states that have moved ahead with legalization and realized the numerous benefits it brings. I look forward to working with leadership to ensure legislation passes as soon as possible.”

State Sen. Gerald Cardinale (R-Demarest)
“The principle duty of government is to safeguard public health and safety. Legalizing marijuana for recreational use is a shameful abdication of that responsibility,” Senator Cardinale said. “In November, New Jersey’s law enforcement community testified that we don’t have the funds, personnel, or technology to identify drugged drivers. There is no breathalyzer for marijuana.

“In Colorado, marijuana-related traffic-fatalities have skyrocketed. This doesn’t just put marijuana users at risk. Innocent people who have never touched pot in their life can’t get on a Colorado highway anymore without fear of being hit by a drugged driver. This public safety crisis will be substantially worse in New Jersey, because we are the most densely populated and congested state in the nation.

“Mark my words – you won’t be able to pull onto the Turnpike without encountering a drugged driver. And what about public transit employees? Will bus drivers be able to light up before work, and spend the whole day transporting commuters? We need to think about these problems before rushing towards legalization.

“We should not be passing legislation to satisfy a popular movement, or ignore peer-reviewed studies that clearly demonstrate the consequences of doing so. We should make laws based on sound reason and evidence.

“I cannot believe that the Majority party is still willing to ignore the large number of qualified law enforcement and medical professionals who continue to shed light on the dangers of legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

“As a longtime member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I also believe that frankly, the social justice argument for marijuana legalization is utter B.S.

“The judges and prosecutors who are handling marijuana sentences are simply following our existing drug laws. They were appointed by the administration with the consent of the State Senate. If they are not doing their job in a color blind fashion, then let’s hold them accountable that egregious offense. The answer isn’t to legalize a dangerous drug, and put more people in harm’s way.

“Finally, marijuana will not bring in enough money to fill the holes in Murphy’s proposed budget – that is an illusion. In just a few years, the social problems created by legalization such as homelessness, as well as widespread crime, will eat up that revenue.

“For the sake of the millions of people we promised to keep safe, I urge my colleagues in the Legislature to rethink this legislation, or at the very least, vote NO. This is not a responsible policy. It’s a perilous mistake that will endanger our population for generations to come.”

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