A total of 23 states, and the District of Columbia, have passed laws legalizing marijuana in some capacity – typically as medical marijuana, with use prescribed by a doctor. Among those states, Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington have approved laws that legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Now federal officials, as well as lawmakers in other states, including New Jersey, are looking to the results of legalization in these states to determine whether marijuana possession should be made legal nationwide.
Should New Jersey Legalize Marijuana?
One state that may provide a useful test case for cannabis legalization elsewhere is marijuana. When Washington voters approved a marijuana reform initiative in 2012, state legislators made sure to include a provision that required the Washington State Institute for Public Policy, a state-based think tank, to issue reports every few years tracking the effects of the marijuana legalization “experiment.”
The first report on pot legalization in Washington was issued late last year, with subsequent reports due in 2017, 2022 and 2032. Although officials don’t yet have enough data to definitely say whether the law has been “successful,” initial data suggests that the economy has greatly benefited from decriminalization of marijuana. Within one year of the law going into effect, Washington secured an additional $70 million in tax revenue from legal marijuana sales, in addition to significant savings on law enforcement and drug crime prevention costs.
The next marijuana legalization report from Washington public policy officials will be issued by September 1, 2017. Until then, citizens and legislators in other states will be keeping a close eye on the Pacific Northwest state to see if legalizing the recreational use of pot can have a positive effect on crime rates and general welfare.
For additional information about the effects of marijuana legalization in some states, see the CheatSheet.com article, “Legal Marijuana: What the First Official Report Says.”
Although some states have legalized marijuana use, NJ still prohibits marijuana possession and distribution. If you or a loved one has been arrested for simple possession of marijuana, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, or any other drug crime in New Jersey, the experienced criminal defense attorneys at the Law Offices of John W. Tumelty can help you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation about your case.