Marijuana legalization sparks controversy in NJ

New Jersey passes bill to legalize marijuana for citizens over the age of 21,  yet students raise concerns.


New Jersey passes bill to legalize marijuana for citizens over the age of 21, yet students raise concerns.

Isabella Ji and Michele Roman

A ballot in the 2020 election allowed New Jersey residents to vote on the legalization of marijuana, following the lead of other states who legalized cannabis previously.

For two years, New Jersey state lawmakers fought to legalize marijuana by trying to mobilize enough support to pass the bill. After being shut down several times, lawmakers decided to let voters respond to the question “Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called ‘cannabis?’”

According to preliminary results given by the Associated Press, 67.1% of the citizens who voted in favor of legalization. The vote gives approval to anyone over the age of 21 to purchase marijuana, similar to states that passed this legalization already. However, other regulations must come into play and be passed before one can obtain the drug.

Junior Madeline Cheevers of Little Silver acknowledged that marijuana may be a problem for adolescents.

“As marijuana is a gateway drug, there may be problems that can arise. Some of which might be increased use from underage kids or increased traffic accidents from driving high,” Cheevers said. 

Despite the negative perspective of marijuana legalization, The New York Times explained that with the pandemic placing financial strains in New Jersey, the potential extra tax revenue and new jobs will be beneficial for the state.  Lawmakers believe that New Jersey has the potential to bring about $126 million a year. 

Sophomore Olivia Borella of Matawan said that the cannabis market can bring a large income.

I think that the new legalization of marijuana is beneficial in New Jersey because people buying legal weed will help boost the economy,” Borella said.

Sophomore Cameron Fleming of Oceanport commented on both sides of the argument, acknowledging the benefits and dangers of legalization. 

“Marijuana legalization will be beneficial for the future, as the illegal stasis of marijuana… [preventing] thorough research on the medical uses of the drug.” Fleming said. “It is currently only used to treat two illnesses, and might have the ability to treat more. The only cons that I could tell are that it would be easier for teenagers to get access to marijuana, which would be detrimental to their brain development.”