The Garden State will get a whole lot greener if one lawmaker gets his way.
There are currently three medical marijuana dispensaries operating in New Jersey. The state legislature legalized cannabis to treat certain medical conditions in 2010. But advocates and some lawmakers have criticized the program for moving too slowly.
Scutari's bill, by contrast, would allow marijuana to be sold to adults over age 21 for recreational or medical purposes. The lawmaker, who heads the state's Senate Judiciary Committee, told The Wall Street Journal that he was modeling the legislation on Colorado's law.
Scutari said his intention in crafting the law was to save valuable resources and to generate more money for the state. “Legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana will generate revenue in the state while saving millions of dollars spent each year on law enforcement,” he told local radio station WCBS 880.
The bill will face a tough journey through New Jersey's legislature. Efforts to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana last year failed, and Governor Chris Christie (R) has said on multiple occasions that he is against legalizing the drug.
Opponents of legalization say marijuana has a high potential for abuse and leads to experimentation with harder drugs.
A recent poll in New Jersey, however, found that a majority of state residents (59 percent) were in favor of lifting the prohibition of cannabis so that the state could regulate and tax it.