The U.S. economy is struggling in the wake of the global pandemic. In an attempt to offset some of New Jersey’s economic struggles following the novel coronavirus outbreak, Gov.Phil Murphy says legalizing cannabis could be the boost they need.
“We still need federal cash assistance direct into the states,” Murphy explained on the Jim Kerr Rock & Roll Morning Show. “That’s something that I hope Congress will get to, sooner than later, that the president will sign. That’s another big slug that we need. We’ll look at revenues that we can potentially raise on our own.”
According to North Jersey, State Democrats have already announced a vote on borrowing up to $9.9 billion from the federal government to offset revenue losses. Murphy noted that while many GOP leaders say that the state cannot borrow to generate revenue, “You should assume that [the bill will] be signed pretty much as soon as it gets here.”
The bill, if passed, will permit the state to borrow about a quarter of its annual budget, and that taxpayers could be on the hook to repay it over as many as 35 years.
The Senate and Assembly are expected to announce their decision on Thursday (Jul. 16th).
One of the morning show’s hosts, Shelli Sonstein, suggested taxing cannabis as a way to help offset the financial crisis brought on by closures.
As noted in the Emerald’s recent piece, legalization would provide generation revenue for federal, state and local governments.
In Colorado, for example, taxes and fees on medical and recreational cannabis collected more than $302 million in 2019 alone, reports the Denver Post.
“Listen, as you probably know, I’ve been on that from day one,” Murphy responded, referring to his legalization attempts in 2018.
“The legislation hasn’t been able to get there yet, but absolutely. That’s an incredibly smart thing to do,” Murphy expressed.
“We’re not inventing marijuana, it exists. It’s got a huge social justice piece for me,” he continued, noting the overwhelming percentage of Black men in our criminal justice system.
“It’s a job creator. It’s a tax revenue raiser,” he added, “It checks a lot of boxes. I hope we’ll get there sooner than later.”
Just last year (2019), Gov. Murphy attempted to legalize cannabis and tax the commercial industry in New Jersey. However, after a month-long effort, Democrats were unable to muster enough support.
Last fall, lawmakers voted to leave the decision up to New Jersey residents with a 2020 ballot initiative. Currently, according to a poll by Monmouth University, 62% of adults in New Jersey say they support legalizing the possession of small amounts of cannabis, with 32% in opposition.
As noted by Politico, support was strongest among young adults (81% among those ages 18 – 34), Democrats (72%) and independents (61%). Forty-seven percent of the Republicans surveyed supported legalization as well.
With the majority of New Jerseyans seeming to support legalization efforts, New Jersey may just be next on the list of legal states.
Written by Rita Thompson