Home>Highlight>Republican chairmen formalize opposition to marijuana legalization

Republican State Chairman Doug Steinhardt, Hudson County Republican Chairman Jose Arango, and Bergen County Republican Chairman Jack Zisa

Republican chairmen formalize opposition to marijuana legalization

Republican leaders from all 21 counties back resolution urging supporters to vote no on ballot measure

By Nikita Biryukov, September 10 2020 11:46 am

New Jersey’s Republican county chairs are united in their opposition to a ballot measure on marijuana legalization.

The Republican County Chairmen’s Association on Thursday unanimously voted to adopt a resolution opposing the referendum and urging their supporters to vote it down.

“We also are strongly opposed to using our State’s constitution to legalize pot. Pro-pot legislators couldn’t get a bill passed, so, instead, they’re trashing our constitution,” Hudson County Republican Chairman Jose Arango said.

Arango was elected to chair the Republican County Chairmen’s Association at the same meeting.

Democrats moved legalization to the ballot after trying and failing more than once to pass it legislatively. While the legalization bill faced few issues in the Assembly, moderate Democrats in the Senate prevented it from getting the 21 votes needed to pass the chamber. No Republicans backed the measure, though State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon (R-Little Silver) was willing to vote yes in exchange for certain changes to the bill.

Instead, Democrats pushed the issue to November’s ballot, and voters — polls show a solid majority of voters support legalization — will ultimately decide whether legal weed becomes the law of the land.

The arguments against marijuana legalization have remained largely unchanged over the past decade. Foremost are concerns about underage smoking and driver impairment.

“Pro-pot legislators may not care about the damage that legal pot will do to our children, families, schools and neighborhoods, but as an organization deeply dedicated to promoting a healthy and safe New Jersey, my chairmen colleagues and I felt obligated to speak out against the ballot question,” Arango said.

It’s not clear whether the Republican chairmen’s resolution represents any sort of resource commitment in the ballot referendum fight.

The pro-legalization side has its fair share of adherents, including the New Jersey branches of the ACLU, the NAACP, the Latino Action Network and NJ CannaBusiness Association, among others.

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