Already the gambling hub of the Garden State, Atlantic City is angling to become the capital of New Jersey’s emerging legal weed market.
Marty Small, the mayor of Atlantic City, said Wednesday that he wants the beach resort destination to be the lone place where marijuana can be sold in New Jersey for the next three to five years.
“We are constantly looking for new revenue streams to offset the impact of property taxes,” Small said in an interview with the Associated Press.
Small also took to Instagram to promote the proposal, urging his followers to “SHARE & TAG.”
“Let’s have Legal Marijuana Sales ONLY in The GREAT City of Atlantic City for the next 3-5 Years,” he said in the social media post.
Small’s reasoning, as reported by the Associated Press, is that “the city should get first dibs on tax money that recreational marijuana would generate because it currently gets nothing from state-imposed parking, luxury, hotel and sports betting taxes.”
“Is it fair that Atlantic City gets nothing from all these state taxes? (In September), New Jersey took in $748 million worth of sports bets and we didn’t get one red cent from that,” Small said, as quoted by the AP. “We are the golden goose that finances a lot of the state’s programs, and it’s time we got something.”
Whatever merits the argument may hold, Small’s effort appears to be quixotic. The AP noted that state Senate President Steve Sweeney, a Democrat, said there was “no way” Small’s plan would be implemented. Joe Danielsen, another state Democratic lawmaker, echoed that, saying the “guiding principle is that the many should benefit, not just the few.” Danielsen also flipped the tables on Small’s argument.
“I’d like to know why Atlantic City has an exclusive on gambling,” Danielsen said, as quoted by the Associated Press. “Is that fair?”
While Small’s effort to corner the weed market for his city may not go anywhere, it certainly won’t be the last time that New Jersey officials take a stab at tinkering with a law that was passed overwhelmingly by the state’s voters last week. About sixty-seven percent of Garden State voters approved Question 1, which makes legal recreational marijuana for adults 21 years and older. New Jersey was one of four states to legalize recreational pot on Election Day this year, joining South Dakota, Montana and Arizona to end prohibition.
Legalization Makes Strides This November
Earlier this week, a pair of New Jersey legislative panels—the Senate Judiciary and Assembly Oversight committees—approved a pair of bills designed to implement Question 1, which by virtue of being a non-binding ballot question requires that lawmakers take steps to put the law into action immediately.
Question 1 arrived on this year’s New Jersey ballot after state legislators failed in their efforts last year to pass a bill that would have legalized pot. Instead, the lawmakers passed a measure that put the question before voters in the state.
Following last week’s triumph at the ballot box, activists celebrated what had been a long road to legalization in New Jersey.
“This is a great day for New Jersey. After years of political inaction, voters have definitively approved marijuana legalization,” said Steve Hawkins, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project. “The passage of this ballot measure positions New Jersey to take the lead in the Northeast and will push neighboring states, like New York and Pennsylvania, to take action on marijuana legalization.”