Fiscal Observations of Cannabis Legalization in NJ

In my time as a medical marijuana patient I have encountered various obstacles. One being managing my chronic health conditions, but the most difficult obstacle I have yet to overcome is the stigma associated with the use of my chosen medication. I use Medical Cannabis to manage tremors, intense muscle spasms, bouts with chronic fatigue (to the point of collapsing) and to withstand the discomfort of being unable to eat food or drink water for extended periods of time due to gastrointestinal complications. As many know, parts of my chosen medicine ,Cannabis, have the potential to be psychoactive. However the part that I find helps my overall well being the greatest is Cannabidiol.

Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, is the second most prevalent cannabinoid in the Cannabis plant. The healing and medicinal properties are not just anecdotal. On June 25th, 2018 the Food and Drug Administration announced in a press release the approval of a medicine called Epidlodex. This medication is an oral solution of Cannabidiol (CBD). This CBD based medication has been countlessly proven to stop seizures in rare conditions normally uncontrolled by typical allopathic medications. The majority of those in need of Epidlodex are children. Access to CBD products can be a life or death situation for some of these children. Many families have flocked to legal Cannabis states in order to save their childrens’ lives.

However, the applications of CBD are not just for seizures and neurological dysfunction. Since CBD causes no euphoria or “high” feeling , this makes it a critical part of a pain relief regimen. The use of this cannabinoid may be of paramount importance in a treatment plan. When it comes to chronic pain, many physicians in the State of New Jersey currently only have the option of prescribing addictive medications including various opioids. According to research, “Medical Cannabis laws are associated with significant reductions in opioid prescribing… when in states that permit dispensaries”. Therefore implementation of Medical Cannabis policies may be one tool that can lower prescription opioid use and serve as an instrument of narcotic abuse diversion.

Yet, still access to legal cannabis is under fire due to miseducation and assumption. Many citizens may be concerned with cannabis legalization being linked to an increase in teenage drug abuse and crime. However, research has actually proven the contrary. Teenage cannabis usage fell to a 20 year low according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Also, a study pertaining to violent crime in legal cannabis states published in 2017 declares that, “violent crime in such states has fallen by an average of 13% since legal cannabis was put on the books, and at even higher rates regarding homicide.”

Cannabis legalization holds others benefits besides healthier people and less criminal activity. Legalization also creates a much needed stream of revenue. In 2019, Colorado saw $1.7 billion in tax revenue and as of December 2020 the total stands currently at around 2 billion dollars. To put the aforementioned numbers in perspective: The State of New Jersey proposed fiscal year 2018 budget allocates over $1.3 billion for road and bridge projects and $677 million for mass transit projects. Also worth noting is that New Jersey school districts last year spent on average $20,385 per student to educate their students. This poses an interesting question: Instead of raising taxes, could New Jersey prosper off of Cannabis taxation revenue? I wholeheartedly believe the answer is yes.

With the legalization of Cannabis, us citizens of New Jersey have the potential to calm the chaotic and fatal opioid crisis. We have the potential to heal ourselves and our children of various maladies. We hold the potential to a brighter, prosperous future where we can all flourish in this grand old Garden State.

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Jade Sancho-Duser

Owner of RxMaryJade, Creator of Shaman Salve, Life Coach and Wellness Professional of 15 years