Takeaways from the Palin lawsuit
Hit rapper and pop icon Snoop Dog once said, “So what if I'm smokin' weed onstage and doing what I gotta do? It's not me shooting nobody, stabbing nobody, killing nobody.” While it may not have been as eloquent as some polished politician-speak, the idealism of Snoop Dog’s words has been written into law in my own home state of New Jersey. In implementing cannabis legalization, New Jersey hopes to begin to be a role model in prioritizing reinvestment in communities most harmed by prohibition and creating an inclusive, equitable, and diverse cannabis marketplace from the start.
The battle for cannabis legalization has been no easy one. Rallies have been taking place outside of the NJ Statehouse in Trenton for a long time with posters reading “Stop the War on Drugs.” Governor Murphy pledged to legalize adult-use cannabis in New Jersey back when he was elected, but the issue was more complex than that. The rationale behind the shift was not just that the state needed the revenues, but it also was a social justice issue – a way to repair a fraction of the damage done to populations targeted by the war on drugs.
The war on drugs has been targeting millions of Hyphenated-Americans across the country. In New Jersey alone, millions have died in impoverished neighborhoods, because of this terrible war. The war on drugs was officially launched during the Nixon administration and perpetuated on a federal, state and local level over the ensuing decades, New Jersey being no exception. Yet, what makes this so impactful is that it’s a turning-point in the war. The municipalities that faced disproportionate harms from our prior cannabis laws, should now see the benefits from the new legislation. Such impact zones will now likely benefit from revenue coming from both cannabis growers as well as the sales tax earnings.
But this is just the beginning of a long road ahead for NJ. There are pitfalls to watch out for and lessons learnt on public safety and public health to lean on - from states like Colorado that legalized recreational cannabis back in 2012. Our NJ legislators must bring in appropriate regulations to ensure this marijuana decriminalization doesn’t become yet another bait-and-switch tax relief scheme in an already overtaxed state.