Senator Robert Singer (R-30) writes for app….
Democrats in the Legislature are now squabbling over everything — how much to tax marijuana, how they will split the money, how best to expunge prior convictions and even whether to lower penalties for “magic mushrooms.”
They’re fighting over adding more taxes on legal pot — in addition to the state and local sales taxes explicitly approved by voters — that could lead to tax rates of 20% to 40% or higher for consumers. Republicans have warned that an excessive tax burden could undermine the legal marketplace and lead to lower tax revenues than expected.
It seems the public’s hope for a quick, painless legalization process have gone up in smoke. Given this extra time, however, we should consider the public good that a responsible utilization of marijuana tax revenues could provide.
While Democrats are trying to direct virtually all the tax revenues resulting from legalization to a handful of urban centers they represent to address “social justice” concerns, I believe there are broader challenges that impact New Jerseyans in every community that must be addressed.
For example, overdose deaths, which have been rising precipitously for years, have soared during the pandemic. State officials reported an increase in fatalities of more than 20% in the first six weeks of the COVID outbreak.
The impact of addiction is real in every city, town, and neighborhood, and across all social boundaries, including race, gender, and economic status. Members of every subcategory can — and do — become hooked, and too many of them die.
That’s why I believe a portion of marijuana tax revenues should be dedicated to funding opioid and drug abuse treatment and prevention programs. This would save lives and help free individuals from addiction.
Similarly, there are other critical areas where these funds could provide a broader public benefit that also are experiencing significant spikes due to the pressures and stresses of the COVID pandemic.