Prosperity and psychosis seen if new jersey legalizes marijuana grade 9 electricity unit review

As Gov. Phil Murphy and legislative leaders push to make New Jersey the ninth state to allow no-questions-asked marijuana sales to adults, lawmakers are hearing from hundreds of people around the state about the promises and perils of the drug. Murphy has set a target of January for legal sales.

At the Saturday hearing in Paramus — the final of four held by the Assembly Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee — most speakers testified in favor of making marijuana legal for adults. They argued that it is less harmful than alcohol and that legal sales would stimulate the economy and cut down on racial disparities among people arrested. About 100 people attended the hearing, including speakers from states like California and Colorado that have legalized marijuana.

​​​​​​​"People have a natural right to cultivate and use this plant in New Jersey," said Justin Alpert, a Livingston attorney with clients eyeing marijuana businesses. "Our state motto is ‘liberty and prosperity.’ People are inherently free. It’s no different from home brewing or sharing a tomato."

Alpert said New Jerseyans already spent billions of dollars a year on marijuana, but all of the money flows into the black market. Legitimizing marijuana would create a billion-dollar legal industry in New Jersey, including growers, cultivators, testing labs and retailers, several speakers said. Murphy’s administration forecasts $300 million a year in tax revenue from a $1.2 billion legal market. New Jersey’s current gross domestic product is about $592 billion.

Assemblyman Joseph Danielsen, D-Somerset, the chairman of the oversight committee, denied that the prospect of tax revenue is influencing his position. He said he remains undecided on whether marijuana should be legal, but offered arguments in favor.

In addition to new businesses that process and sell marijuana and its psychoactive extracts, a legal market would boost existing businesses such as contractors, lawyers, engineers, architects, armed guards, metal fabricators and marketing professionals, said Thomas Armstrong, a Somerset County native who now works as an environmental consultant to the marijuana industry in California.

Not so, said Dr. Wilbert Yeong, a Hackensack-based child and adolescent psychiatrist. Speaking on behalf of a trade group of 250 New Jersey developmental mental-health professionals, Yeong said marijuana leads to higher dropout rates, lower academic achievement and, for some people, mood disorders as severe as schizophrenia. While New Jersey would restrict non-medical marijuana use to people 21 and older, Yeong said legal sales would make the drug more accessible to young people.

"Brain development in humans occurs through the age of 25," he said. "We are talking about increasing access to the 21- to 25-year-old population whose brains are still developing. We are also talking about increasing illegal access to people under 21."

In an interview after the hearing, Danielsen said he leans in favor of legalization as long as there are provisions to ensure that African American and Latino entrepreneurs have access to the market and that minor marijuana offenses are expunged from criminal records.