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Marijuana is approved for medical use in 36 states and is fully legal in 13 states, including NJ.  So, if you want to use recreational marijuana in NJ you can, right?  Not so quick!  At the federal level, it’s still a crime. But there’s hope.  The Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement Act is making its way through congress.  This bill decriminalizes marijuana.  It should pass – but will it?

The law “removes marijuana from the list of scheduled substances under the Controlled Substances Act and eliminates criminal penalties for an individual who manufactures, distributes, or possesses marijuana.”  The bill also establishes a trust fund to support programs for those impacted by the war on drugs, funded by a 5% tax on cannabis products. It also establishes a process to expunge convictions and conduct sentencing review hearings for federal cannabis offenses and directs the Government Accountability Office to study the societal impact of cannabis legalization.

Here are some facts published by Britannica, a reliable, non-partisan organization:

More than half of US adults have tried marijuana, even though its illegal under federal law. As of 2018, nearly 600,000 Americans were being arrested for marijuana possession annually – more than one person per minute. Public support for legalizing marijuana went from 12% in 1969 to 66% today. The legalization of recreational marijuana in 2012 in Colorado and Washington cost Mexican drug cartels an estimated $2.7 billion in profits.

Legalizing recreational marijuana could add billions to the US economy, create jobs, free up police resources, and stop the racial disparities in marijuana enforcement. Legalization will take business away from the drug cartels, and make marijuana use safer through required testing, labeling, and child-proof packaging. Taxes collected from the legal sale of marijuana support important public programs. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and tobacco, which are already legal.   Like alcohol and tobacco, it may not be good for you, but should the government have the right to tell adults what they can put in their own bodies?  I don’t think so!  This bill should become a federal law, but my congressman voted against it.  Do you know how your legislator voted?