TRENTON, N.J. — Democrats generally don’t need Republicans to pass things through the N.J. legislature. The Grand Old Party’s caucus in both chambers (26 of 80 seats in the Assembly, 15 of 40 in the Senate) is at post-Watergate levels. But with uncertainty remaining as to whether some Democrats will vote against a recreational weed legalization bill set for committee votes on Monday (November 26th), every vote might count.
Count Gerry Cardinale (R-39) as a ‘nay’ vote.
The veteran Republican state senate — who’s been in Trenton since 1980 — declared his intentions this holiday weekend by releasing an open letter to his colleagues.
“There is a cavernous gap between the public’s understanding of marijuana legalization, and reality. Science, public safety studies, and the experiences we are hearing about from those who are living in post-legalization states, such as Colorado and Washington, paint a very different picture,” said Cardinale.
“Our challenge is to educate our colleagues and our constituents on the risks of legalization and shed light on the certain unintended consequences it will have on our children and our culture,” he added.
Cardinale also pointed to studies which he insists prove the danger to the public outweighs any benefit to the state’s coffers:
“Reliable scientific studies have determined, and repeatedly confirmed, that of those who merely experiment with marijuana for the first time, 9 percent will become addicted. Research also shows that 25 to 50 percent of daily marijuana users will also develop an addiction to the drug.
Additionally, traffic fatalities have dramatically risen after legalization. Colorado saw a 48 percent rise in traffic fatalities. In Washington, they doubled. Crime, homelessness, diminished educational achievement, and disparate racial imprisonment, have all resulted or worsened in the aftermath of legalization in states that have chosen to enact this policy. There are a number of other public health concerns that also demonstrate why marijuana is, and should remain, illegal.”
Not every Republican agrees.
“The truth is, the War on Cannabis has caused far more harm than cannabis itself ever could. It’s time to understand cannabis for what it is and not what we fear it to be,” said Scott Rudder, a former GOP Assemblyman and current president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association (NJCBA), in a recent social media post.
Monday’s historic Senate Budget Committee hearing is scheduled for 10:00 a.m. in Committee Room 4 of the Trenton Statehouse Annex.