What Is Marijuana And When Did It Become Illegal?

Marijuana was first outlawed in NJ in 1911. Marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, which means that it has a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. This classification makes marijuana illegal under federal law. This perception has changed steadily over the years.

However, states have been legalizing marijuana for both medical and recreational use, and there is evidence to suggest that marijuana legalization does not lead to an increase in crime. There is evidence to suggest that marijuana legalization may lead to a reduction in crime. 

As a result, New Jersey voters approved recreational marijuana in November 2020. Adults 21 and over can consume cannabis on their private property. Adults won’t be able to access dispensaries until 2022. Governor Murphy has been a vocal supporter of marijuana legalization and made it one of his campaign promises. 

A study published by the Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization found that marijuana legalization in Colorado led to a reduction in violent crime. The study analyzed data from the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports and found that murder rates decreased by 10 percent after marijuana was legalized. 

Additionally, the study found that robbery rates decreased by 3.8 percent, aggravated assault rates decreased by 5.2 percent, and burglary rates decreased by 6.5 percent. This is not the only study that has found a correlation between marijuana legalization and a crime reduction

How Does Medical Marijuana in NJ Help? 

Medical marijuana has been shown to help patients suffering from a variety of illnesses and conditions. Some of the conditions that marijuana has been shown to help include: 

  • Cancer
  • Glaucoma
  • HIV/AIDS
  • Epilepsy
  • Chronic pain
  • Migraines

Marijuana has also been shown to be an effective treatment for anxiety and depression. It can help increase appetite in cancer patients, reduce the number of seizures suffered by epileptic patients, and provide relief from chronic pain. 

The benefits of marijuana are not just limited to humans. Marijuana has also been shown to be effective in treating animals. For example, marijuana is effective in animals suffering from seizures and dementia. 

More than half of the states in the country have legalized marijuana for medical use, and more than eighty percent of Americans support legalizing marijuana for medical purposes. 

New Jersey is one of the 18 states where recreational marijuana is legal. By legalizing marijuana, New Jersey follows in states like Colorado who saw an increase in revenue after marijuana was legalized due to the taxes on marijuana sales. However, legalization will not happen overnight because it has many steps including passing legislation that makes weed legal. 

The Vote to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in NJ

On November 26, 2013, the people of Colorado voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use. This made Colorado the first state in the nation to allow marijuana use for adults 21 and older. The vote in Colorado was close, but it passed with 55% of the vote.1 Since then, other states have considered legalizing marijuana, including New Jersey.

In November 2014, New Jersey Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll introduced a bill that would legalize marijuana in the Garden State. The bill would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants. It would also create a system of regulated marijuana dispensaries. The bill did not pass, but it sparked a debate about marijuana legalization in New Jersey.

On February 22, 2021, Governor Phil Murphy signed three bills changing the legal status of marijuana. These laws, which went into immediate effect, create a two-tier framework. When the substance is bought, sold, and used under certain conditions, it is treated as “regulated cannabis” and fully legal in New Jersey. 

From a practical approach, regulated cannabis will not be available in the State for several months until a new government body, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, issues rules governing its use.

All forms of the substance that are not regulated cannabis or medical cannabis are treated as “marijuana” or “hashish.” Under the new laws, marijuana and hashish are still defined as “controlled dangerous substances” under N.J.S.A. 2C:35-2 but are largely decriminalized for non-distribution offenses. The laws eliminate existing prohibitions and create new, more lenient penalties for possession and distribution that remain tiered based on weight.

There is no clear evidence that marijuana legalization would reduce crime. However, marijuana prohibition does have negative consequences that could be reduced if marijuana were legalized.

For example, marijuana prohibition leads to the cultivation of marijuana by criminal gangs, which can lead to violence. It also leads to the arrest of people for nonviolent offenses, which can harm their lives.

How Does The Recent Legalization May Affect Addiction Rates? 

The recent legalization of marijuana in some states, such as Colorado and Washington, has raised concerns that there will be an increase in marijuana addiction rates. 

However, marijuana legalization is not expected to lead to a significant increase in marijuana abuse or addiction. As more states begin to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the research must be backed to ensure the safety of the consumers.

Addiction rates of marijuana could be related to other factors such as the potency of marijuana, mental health, and family history. One study that was conducted in Colorado found that marijuana legalization had no significant effect on crime rates. 

Some people argue that marijuana legalization would reduce crime rates by removing a key factor that drives criminal activity. However, other factors such as poverty and unemployment could play a bigger role in driving crime rates. 

Further research is needed to determine the effects of marijuana legalization on crime rates. Marijuana has been used for centuries for medicinal purposes. In recent years, marijuana has been used for recreational purposes as well.

What Are The Two Opposing Thoughts? 

There are two opposing thoughts, wondering if legalizing weed reduces crime. One thought is that marijuana will be more accessible and people will smoke it more, leading to an increase in crime. The other thought is that marijuana will be sold in regulated shops and not on the black market, so crime rates will go down because there will be less of a need for marijuana dealers.

Opponents of marijuana legalization often argue that marijuana is a gateway drug that leads to addiction to harder drugs. However, there is no evidence that marijuana legalization increases the rate of addiction to harder drugs. Marijuana is less addictive than tobacco and alcohol.

Another concern raised by opponents of marijuana legalization is that marijuana use will increase among children. However, research shows that marijuana use by children has not increased in states that have legalized marijuana. Marijuana is less addictive than tobacco and alcohol and does not increase the risk of addiction to harder drugs.

One argument in favor of marijuana legalization is that it would reduce crime rates. This is because marijuana prohibition leads to the black market for sales, driving the risk factors.

Opponents of marijuana legalization argue that marijuana is dangerous and addictive. They also argue that marijuana legalization will lead to increased use by children and increased crime rates.

Supporters of marijuana legalization argue that marijuana is less addictive than tobacco and alcohol, and does not increase the risk of addiction to harder drugs. They also argue that marijuana legalization will lead to a decrease in the use of marijuana by children because marijuana dealers would no longer ask for an ID when selling marijuana and that marijuana legalization would reduce crime rates because marijuana is currently purchased from criminals.

What Does The Research Say?

The research seems to show that marijuana legalization does not impact crime. In fact, in states where marijuana is legal, crime rates have remained consistent overall. This could be because marijuana dealers are no longer necessary when marijuana can be bought legally, or it could be because marijuana addiction rates do not rise as significantly as some people feared.

How Has Legalized Marijuana Affected States Like California and Colorado in the Past? 

The legalization of marijuana in states like California and Colorado has not led to drastic spikes in marijuana addiction rates. Marijuana abuse rates remain the same or slightly decrease after marijuana is legalized for recreational use.

A recent study completed by Portland State University shows that marijuana legalization does help to reduce crime rates, specifically violent crime. The study found evidence that marijuana legalization leads to a 12% drop in violent crimes like murder, rape, and robbery.

In 2010, marijuana was legalized for medical use in California, which marked a significant change. Some people argue that marijuana legalization would reduce crime rates by removing a key factor that drives criminal activity. However, other factors such as poverty and unemployment could play a bigger role in driving crime rates.

California has seen an increase in marijuana tax revenue, as well as a decrease in marijuana arrests since marijuana was legalized. In 2016, the state made over $60 million from marijuana taxes, and the number of marijuana arrests decreased by 85% from 2006 to 2015.

New Jersey could see similar benefits if marijuana is legalized for recreational use. Based on data from states that have already legalized marijuana, it is clear that there are many positive outcomes associated with marijuana legalization. 

These benefits include reduced crime rates, increased tax revenue, and decreased marijuana arrests. It is important to note that these benefits vary depending on the state, so it is important to carefully weigh all the pros and cons of marijuana legalization before making a decision.

How Does Marijuana Legalization in NJ Bring in Revenue?

One of the main benefits associated with marijuana legalization is increased tax revenue. In Colorado, for example, marijuana legalization has resulted in an increase in tax revenue of over $500 million since 2014. 

This money is used to fund important programs such as education and drug abuse prevention. In addition, marijuana taxes have generated over $60 million in revenue for the state of Washington since it legalized marijuana in 2012.

It is important to note that marijuana taxes vary depending on the state. New Jersey could see a different increase in tax revenue than Colorado or Washington. However, it is reasonable to assume that legalizing marijuana would bring in millions of dollars in additional tax revenue each year. 

This money could be used to fund important programs in New Jersey such as education and drug abuse prevention. The rate of addiction broadly has been influenced by marijuana legalization one way or the other.

Marijuana is currently legal for medical use in New Jersey. However, marijuana is not yet legal for recreational use. A bill that would legalize marijuana for recreational use was introduced in the New Jersey Legislature in January 2018.

If the bill is passed, adults would be able to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to 6 marijuana plants. The bill would also create a system for taxing and regulating marijuana sales.

How Will This Affect Incarceration Rates? 

The incarceration rates after legalization also decreased. The marijuana possession arrests in Portland dropped by more than 85 percent after marijuana was legalized (1,000 marijuana arrests pre-legalization and just 57 marijuana arrests post-legalization).

While marijuana legalization can help reduce violent crime rates throughout the state, it is important to ensure the safety of everyone beforehand– especially minors. Marijuana should be regulated like alcohol so teenagers do not get their hands on marijuana easily. Although this new bill will decrease incarceration rates across the state,

How Are Treatment Centers Responding to marijuana legalization in NJ? 

Treatment centers have been responding to legalization in a number of ways. Some centers are scaling back their marijuana addiction services, while others are expanding their offerings. The latter group believes that marijuana addiction will become more prevalent now that marijuana is legal.

It is still too early to tell how legalization will impact treatment centers and the people who rely on them for help. However, it is important to note that marijuana addiction is a real phenomenon, and it should not be taken lightly. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with marijuana addiction, please reach out for help. There are many resources available, and treatment can be life-saving.  Psychotherapy such as CBT(Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) has been effective at treating substance abuse. 

Telemedicine, support groups, and aftercare can be welcoming options for marijuana addiction. The legalization of marijuana in New Jersey has caused much debate among residents. Some believe that marijuana should be decriminalized because of its potential health benefits. 

Strengthen Your Chances for Recovery Discovery Institute

The debate about the effectiveness of marijuana has become a hotbed for discussions. With many practical benefits, marijuana still demands more research to determine the long-term effects on chronic users. Marijuana addiction can still present itself in those who are most sensitive. 

Discovery Institute is dedicated to providing you with the best insights and tools to manage your recovery. There is no single cure for addiction, although, with determination and support, you can strengthen your chances. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, contact us today.

References:

https://www.njoag.gov/marijuana/

https://www.njlm.org/969/Cannabis-Legalization

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Joseph N. Ranieris D.O.

Dr. Joseph Ranieri D.O. earned his BS in Pharmacy at Temple University School of Pharmacy in 1981 and His Doctorate Degree in Osteopathic Medicine at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in 1991. He is Board Certified by the American Board of Family Medicine and a Diplomate of the American Board of Preventive Medicine Addiction Certification.