Pubdate: Sun, 13 Apr 2014
Source: Asbury Park Press (NJ)
Section:  2014 Asbury Park Press
Author: Mary Pat Angelini
Note: Mary Pat Angelini is a Republican assemblywoman whose 11th 
District includes portions of Monmouth County. She is executive 
director of Prevention First.
Note: OPED 3 of 3


[Asbury Park Press Editor] A bill to legalize marijuana in New Jersey 
has been introduced by Democratic lawmakers in both the Senate and 
the Assembly, even though Gov. Chris Christie has indicated he would 
veto it. The sponsors argue that taxing marijuana would help raise 
badly needed revenue. Christie says legalization would "send the 
wrong message" at a time when the state is faced with a heroin 
epidemic and widespread abuses of prescription drugs.A Monmouth 
University/Asbury Park Press Poll released last week showed a nearly 
even split among those who favored and those who opposed legalization 
of marijuana. Below are essays presenting the cases for and against 


Imagine for a minute a world in which marijuana is available in a 
vending machine or corner grocery store near you - like any other 
snack machine - pot-infused lollipops, gummy candies, baked goods and 
beverages available at the push of a button.

As futuristic as this farfetched tale sounds, this is Colorado's 
reality, a state with the dubious distinction of becoming the first 
to legalize marijuana, which has helped spawn legalization efforts 
across the U.S., including in New Jersey.

And while Colorado's experiment has sparked heated debate over drug 
legalization, a critical and unbiased look at the data clearly shows 
that marijuana legalization has serious and far-reaching consequences 
that far outweigh any of its alleged benefits.

Strong emotions on both sides of this issue should not obscure the 
facts. Marijuana is an addictive substance that is harmful to users, 
especially to its younger users.

As a teen's brain development is disturbed by chronic marijuana use, 
the risk for physical and psychological dependency grows exponentially.

In addition to permanently affecting brain functioning, marijuana use 
can lead to a wide array of negative consequences, ranging from lower 
grades and isolation from family to an increased risk of psychotic 
symptoms, depression and suicide.

According to the Office of National Drug Control Policy, legalization 
will cause a substantial increase in economic and social costs.

The expansion of drug use will increase crime committed under the 
influence of drugs, as well as family violence, vehicular crashes, 
work-related injuries and a variety of health-related problems. These 
new costs will far outweigh any income from taxes on drugs.

Few would argue that a drug that can cause such destruction is 
something that we should counsel people to avoid. However, 
legalization efforts do just the opposite.

In fact, experience has shown that when drugs are legalized, drug use 
increases because the perception of harm is reduced.

Moreover, the Drug Enforcement Agency has estimated that legalization 
could double or even triple the amount of marijuana users.

While it is hard to fathom the societal impact of an additional 17 
million to 34 million marijuana users, it is safe to assume that 
those who profit from legalization have calculated the impact on 
their bottom line.

Those in favor of legalization often fail to tell you that levels of 
drug use have gone down substantially since the 1970s when the "war" 
on drugs began. This is not to say that our drug laws, including 
those governing marijuana, are not in need of reform.

For instance, the effort to place more drug users into treatment 
instead of prison is a positive development, both for those 
struggling with addiction and for taxpayers.

However, reforming and improving our drug laws does not mean we 
should abandon our fight against the use of illegal drugs like marijuana.

On the contrary, the more we learn about effective methods of 
combating drug use, the more we learn that legalization is not the 
answer, and is, in fact, very much part of the problem.

Mary Pat Angelini is a Republican assemblywoman whose 11th District 
includes portions of Monmouth County. She is executive director of 
Prevention First. 
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jo-D