Approximately 4 percent of New Jerseyans regularly use marijuana, according to a new report by New Jersey Policy Perspective and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, for a total of 2.5 million ounces annually. They spend up to an estimated $869 million each year, at a cost of $343 an ounce.
If New Jersey should legalize the use and sale of marijuana to adults, as other states have and California is considering this year, it would raise about $300 million, according to the report. The authors used a 25 percent retail tax to come up with that number.
The report argues that the increase in tax revenue and the added benefit of an estimated $1.1 billion to the legal economy is not a good enough argument for the drug’s legalization. However, there are 24,000 marijuana arrests each year. Eliminating that effort would save money, increase racial justice and public safety, and alter a criminal-justice system that jails nonviolent drug offenders and creates a criminal record for the use of marijuana.
Advocates are preparing to build a public campaign for the legalization of marijuana in New Jersey within the next few years.