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New Jersey’s path to cannabis legalization

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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

New Jersey’s outgoing governor recently said something that angered cannabis advocates, and it’s definitely not the first time he’s done that. During a radio interview, Christie said any tax revenue that comes from cannabis sales is “blood money.”

“It’s blood money. It’s disgraceful and it’s disgusting,” Christie said.

Christie has been an opponent of legalization for a long time, so it wasn’t a particularly surprising statement, but advocates from New Jersey felt it was ripe with hypocrisy. Scott Rudder, the president of the board of directors at the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, told Cannabis News Box that Christie should know about “blood money.”

“If anybody really wants to look at what ‘blood money’ is, they need to look at the opioid manufacturers that are responsible for over 150 deaths every day,” Rudder said. “That’s the real blood money. I find it ironic that a person who has received significant amounts of contributions—for his governor’s races and his presidential run—from the pharmaceutical companies that are responsible for the opioid epidemic would refer to [blood money].”

Rudder noted that cannabis has never caused an overdose death “in all recorded history,” so Christie is way off base. Considering Christie is on his way out anyway, what’s really important to focus on is New Jersey’s future. The state elected a pro-legalization Democrat, Phil Murphy, to replace Christie in early November. It looks like the state is on its way to having legal cannabis.

“New Jersey’s fortunate to have an incoming governor who supports legalization efforts and supports the growth of an industry that will create tens of thousands of new jobs,” Rudder said.

Cannabis activists in the state are hoping to legalize cannabis in New Jersey in Murphy’s first 100 days. However, they’re fully aware that there will be a lot of opposition to this, and they’re already seeing cannabis opponents starting to fight their efforts.

“There’s already opposition lining up,” Rudder said. “The opposition is being funded by the alcohol industry and Big Pharma. We know there is going to be a significant campaign against this, but we’re gearing up for it.”

The alcohol industry and the pharmaceutical industry could lose some profits if cannabis is legalized, because people might choose to socially use cannabis or medicate with cannabis once it’s legal instead of drinking or taking pharmaceuticals, Rudder said. He believes they’re worried about their “bottom line.”

New Jersey’s legislature has proposed legalizing cannabis multiple times, but Christie always stood in the way. Even if there is opposition, it seems likely New Jersey will be a legal state soon enough.

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New Jersey’s path to cannabis legalization