Pubdate: Thu, 24 Dec 2015
Source: Asbury Park Press (NJ)
Copyright: 2015 Asbury Park Press


What was Assemblyman Reed Gusciora smoking?

That question immediately came to mind when we learned of his plans 
to introduce a bill next month that would legalize recreational 
marijuana in Atlantic City.

Gusciora, D-Mercer, says legalization would breathe new life into the 
struggling city, stimulating a new breed of gambler and making it an 
attractive destination for people from all over the U.S.

"I think people from across the country would come out here for 
vacations and take advantage of legalized recreational marijuana. No 
other casino offers this, not even Nevada, so this would be unique. 
It's a way for our casinos to say that we have a unique experience," 
Gusciora said.

Unique? Yep, we'll concede that.

Sensible? No way. It's hard to know where to begin in explaining why.

But let's start with the prospect of attracting Cheech & Chong and 
their ganja brethren from places where marijuana is illegal - namely, 
every state but four, none of which are east of Colorado - to 
Atlantic City, where they can all light up doobies without fear of 
the long arm of the law.

So much for Atlantic City's now-and-again attempts to make the place 
more family friendly. Perhaps a new slogan is in order: "The family 
that smokes dope together stays hungry together.'

Gusciora says allowing weed in Atlantic City could succeed in 
resurrecting it where past attempts have failed.

"The Legislature is considering a package of bills to bail out 
Atlantic City so to speak, but nothing seems to be working except for 
throwing more money at Atlantic City," he said. "The problem with 
Atlantic City is people from Delaware, Pennsylvania and New York no 
longer go there because they have their own casinos."

Yes, that is a problem. A huge problem. That's why the Legislature 
needs to come up with a compromise on expanding casino gambling to 
two sites in North Jersey, one at the Meadowlands and another in 
Jersey City. Legislation that would put the question to voters is 
bogged down because of disagreements on who should be operating the 
casinos. The Senate version of a bill wants both of the casinos to be 
run by current casino operators in Atlantic City. The Assembly 
version wants one of the two casinos to be run by an independent operator.

It should be noted that Atlantic City continues to have one of the 
highest crime rates in the state. Legalizing pot there isn't likely 
to make the job of the overextended police department any easier, 
although we suspect proponents of Gusciora's bill - a group confined 
to those who enjoy the occasional or regular toke - would argue it 
will help make the city more mellow.

While people will continue to debate whether marijuana is a gateway 
to more powerful drugs, it isn't a reach to suggest that some of the 
people who might be attracted to Atlantic City because of the 
welcoming attitude toward marijuana might be more prone to dabbling 
in other drugs as well.

If Gusciora follows through on his threat - er, pledge -to introduce 
the marijuana bill, we hope it will quickly go up in smoke.
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