Liberal — Nicole Cheney
Without a doubt, marijuana should be legalized. Everywhere. Period. Tax revenues would increase, street crimes would decrease, and medicinal marijuana would be more accessible for patients – so much so that it may even curtail the effects of the current opioid crisis. Marijuana is generally considered safe with little risk for addiction; there is clear scientific evidence to support its reclassification at a lower schedule. (It is currently labeled as a Schedule 1 substance for “great abuse potential and no medicinal value,” despite evidence that supports marijuana as a natural painkiller and a palliative treatment for cancer patients.)
With legalization comes the inherent probability of marijuana-related DUI risks, which is absolutely a danger that needs to be addressed and corrected going forward. However, the benefits far outweigh the risks when considering the amount of lives that will be spared from unfair prison terms, drug-related violence, injury from laced or synthetic substances, and so much more. It is also important to recognize the disproportionate punishment of Black and Latinx Americans at the hands of racist marijuana policies, so it is imperative that the legalization of marijuana coincides with the expungement of criminal records for nonviolent drug offenses.
Safe, smart, and successful regulation of legal marijuana has the potential to create tangible positive social change. With ample scientific and legal evidence supporting the case, it only makes sense to advocate for legalization.
Independent — Carmel Rafalowsky
I definitely think marijuana should be legalized in New Jersey, and even nationwide if possible. If legalized, the sale of marijuana could be government-regulated, taxed, and provide revenue to the state or federal government for their discretionary use. I believe that the revenue garnered through such an initiative could be used to provide more and better social services for citizens or improve and repair infrastructure. Additionally, it could lower the amount America spends to arrest and incarcerate those found in possession of marijuana.
Moreover, legalization could allow individuals with chronic illnesses to try marijuana for pain relief, before going through the bureaucratic hassle of becoming approved for medical marijuana (which is not guaranteed to be effective for any individual’s pain or illness). In the same vein, if legalized, perhaps medical professionals would be more inclined to prescribe forms of medical marijuana or ‘softer’ drugs for pain relief instead of relying heavily on medications derived from opioids, such as Percocet—a Schedule II drug. (Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse, which can lead to severe psychological and physical dependence.)
Regardless of social or personal benefits legalization could provide the public at large, legalization by and large seems the fiscally prudent move, as it would not only cut costs, but turn a profit for the state.
Conservative — Adrian Wong
The legalization of drugs is a very difficult decision. No one disputes that drugs ruin lives, but the question remains of when banning the use of drugs infringes on individual liberty.
I am of the belief that people who have their lives in order should be able to use drugs whenever they wish. I strongly believe that tax dollars shouldn’t be given to people with drug addiction unless it’s to help stop the addiction. There’s no reason why the federal government should subsidize someone’s unmanaged addiction by paying for their food. At first, taxation seems like an effective way to enforce this, but it is not. Taxing drugs doesn’t work because the black market remains cheaper and crime associated with drug trade isn’t eliminated. I’m not sure there’s an effective wayto enforce this rule, so until then I propose that marijuana be decriminalized and that thoseon government assistance(like the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP) be randomly drug tested. People who get caught with marijuana don’t deserve to be sent to jail, however as a slight deterrence I’d argue that there be a small fine for having marijuana.