Legalizing Weed for the Sake of Social Justice

The People's Republic of New Jersey has a new governor.  His name is Phil Murphy, and he's a Democrat.  In presenting his first budget, Gov. Murphy showed his progressive bona fides by proposing  $2.7 billion in new spending and aiming to raise taxes overall by $1.5 billion.

The bulk of new tax revenue is to come from the governor's cherished millionaire's tax, a tax he campaigned heavily on.  This tax would be a 10.75-percent hit on income over a million dollars and is aimed at raising $765 million in new revenue.  But human nature being what is, one might ask: won't many of the "rich" simply flee the Garden State, especially when the effect of the now-$10,000 federal cap on state and local taxes deductions kicks in?

Not to worry.  The governor says: "I am sure none of them [the rich] are here for low taxes.  They are here because we can offer an unmatched quality of life."  If the governor needs a fig leaf for cover, this is as good as any, I suppose.  In any event, time will tell.

Governor Murphy's soak-the-rich budget, raising the minimum wage to $15, and pouring ever more money into public education are what you would expect from a liberal Democrat.  But the amusing part comes with his proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

On one side of his mouth, the governor is drooling at the prospect of increased revenue to Trenton as the state's treasury gets high on weed revenue to the tune of $60 million to $300 million in sales and excise taxes.  And just as with the unintended consequences of his millionaire's tax, Gov. Murphy ignores the likely social cost of state-sanctioned drug use.  But that doesn't matter.  In his mind, the governor has the moral high ground.  See, he doesn't want to legalize marijuana for crass economic reasons. Nor is he doing it to soothe his inner libertarian spirit, if he has one.  Oh, no: Murphy wants to legalize cannabis for the sake of social justice.

Huh?

Here's what the New York Times reported:

During his campaign for governor of New Jersey, Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, pledged to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, telling Democrats at a party conference last year in Atlantic City that creating a new tax revenue was not what was motivating him.

"People ask me all the time, 'Hey, are you sure you can generate $300 million from the legalization of marijuana?" Mr. Murphy said, citing a figure that his campaign had trumpeted.  "I say, 'You know what, I'm not sure, but that's not the question.  We're not doing it for the dollars.  We're doing it for social justice.'"

Mr. Murphy argues that the disproportionate number of African-Americans who are jailed on marijuana charges is a main reason to legalize the drug, and he has the support of civil rights groups, cannabis business lobbyists, lawyers, doctors who prescribe medical marijuana and out-of-state cannabis growers.

So there you have it.  Legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, like everything else that enters a liberal's mind, gets translated into an issue of race.   

But there's a fly in the governor's ointment.  It is state senator Ronald L. Rice, a Democrat from Newark, the state's longest serving black senator, and the leader of its Black Caucus.  He thinks legalizing pot would hurt black communities, which are already swimming in a heroin addiction problem.  According to him, marijuana stores would spring up in black neighborhoods, much like liquor stores, and produce a new generation of drug-abusers.  On that point, Rice is no doubt correct. 

Sen. Rice is also against this legalization effort because it would enrich white entrepreneurs (horrors) while creating problems in African-American neighborhoods.  It seems the senator also has a race filter in his brain. 

But to give Rice his due, he has proposed his own marijuana bill.  It would decriminalize the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana and make carrying a greater amount a disorderly persons charge that would impose only a fine.  It would also expunge criminal records and release incarcerated people serving sentences for possessing small amounts of marijuana.  (As an aside, one has to wonder just how many people are imprisoned in ultra-liberal New Jersey for possession of small amounts of marijuana.) 

Objectively speaking, Rice's proposal would adequately address the "social justice" issue allegedly motivating Gov. Murphy.  But alas, it would not generate the revenue Murphy is purportedly not interested in. 

To date, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana.  It's hard to recall any of them using social justice for blacks as a prime reason.  Here, New Jersey is breaking ground.  It makes one wonder how deep Gov. Murphy has drunk from the social justice Kool-Aid.  If he is presented with statistics showing that a disproportionate percentage of blacks are arrested for street-walking, will he then make legalizing prostitution a social justice issue?  That would be the logic of his thought process.

A final thought.  Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.  The Obama administration let the matter slide and allowed state-level rules to stand.  The Trump administration in the person of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is making noises to the contrary.  But with states like California and many cities openly defying immigration laws, don't expect a marijuana crackdown by the feds.  Adding to that is the fact that, for better or worse, the political constituency for legalization has grown to a force to be reckoned with.  It has supporters from the left and the right.  Legalization will not be denied, and social justice will not be the reason why.

The People's Republic of New Jersey has a new governor.  His name is Phil Murphy, and he's a Democrat.  In presenting his first budget, Gov. Murphy showed his progressive bona fides by proposing  $2.7 billion in new spending and aiming to raise taxes overall by $1.5 billion.

The bulk of new tax revenue is to come from the governor's cherished millionaire's tax, a tax he campaigned heavily on.  This tax would be a 10.75-percent hit on income over a million dollars and is aimed at raising $765 million in new revenue.  But human nature being what is, one might ask: won't many of the "rich" simply flee the Garden State, especially when the effect of the now-$10,000 federal cap on state and local taxes deductions kicks in?

Not to worry.  The governor says: "I am sure none of them [the rich] are here for low taxes.  They are here because we can offer an unmatched quality of life."  If the governor needs a fig leaf for cover, this is as good as any, I suppose.  In any event, time will tell.

Governor Murphy's soak-the-rich budget, raising the minimum wage to $15, and pouring ever more money into public education are what you would expect from a liberal Democrat.  But the amusing part comes with his proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

On one side of his mouth, the governor is drooling at the prospect of increased revenue to Trenton as the state's treasury gets high on weed revenue to the tune of $60 million to $300 million in sales and excise taxes.  And just as with the unintended consequences of his millionaire's tax, Gov. Murphy ignores the likely social cost of state-sanctioned drug use.  But that doesn't matter.  In his mind, the governor has the moral high ground.  See, he doesn't want to legalize marijuana for crass economic reasons. Nor is he doing it to soothe his inner libertarian spirit, if he has one.  Oh, no: Murphy wants to legalize cannabis for the sake of social justice.

Huh?

Here's what the New York Times reported:

During his campaign for governor of New Jersey, Philip D. Murphy, a Democrat, pledged to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, telling Democrats at a party conference last year in Atlantic City that creating a new tax revenue was not what was motivating him.

"People ask me all the time, 'Hey, are you sure you can generate $300 million from the legalization of marijuana?" Mr. Murphy said, citing a figure that his campaign had trumpeted.  "I say, 'You know what, I'm not sure, but that's not the question.  We're not doing it for the dollars.  We're doing it for social justice.'"

Mr. Murphy argues that the disproportionate number of African-Americans who are jailed on marijuana charges is a main reason to legalize the drug, and he has the support of civil rights groups, cannabis business lobbyists, lawyers, doctors who prescribe medical marijuana and out-of-state cannabis growers.

So there you have it.  Legalizing the recreational use of marijuana, like everything else that enters a liberal's mind, gets translated into an issue of race.   

But there's a fly in the governor's ointment.  It is state senator Ronald L. Rice, a Democrat from Newark, the state's longest serving black senator, and the leader of its Black Caucus.  He thinks legalizing pot would hurt black communities, which are already swimming in a heroin addiction problem.  According to him, marijuana stores would spring up in black neighborhoods, much like liquor stores, and produce a new generation of drug-abusers.  On that point, Rice is no doubt correct. 

Sen. Rice is also against this legalization effort because it would enrich white entrepreneurs (horrors) while creating problems in African-American neighborhoods.  It seems the senator also has a race filter in his brain. 

But to give Rice his due, he has proposed his own marijuana bill.  It would decriminalize the possession of 10 grams or less of marijuana and make carrying a greater amount a disorderly persons charge that would impose only a fine.  It would also expunge criminal records and release incarcerated people serving sentences for possessing small amounts of marijuana.  (As an aside, one has to wonder just how many people are imprisoned in ultra-liberal New Jersey for possession of small amounts of marijuana.) 

Objectively speaking, Rice's proposal would adequately address the "social justice" issue allegedly motivating Gov. Murphy.  But alas, it would not generate the revenue Murphy is purportedly not interested in. 

To date, nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana.  It's hard to recall any of them using social justice for blacks as a prime reason.  Here, New Jersey is breaking ground.  It makes one wonder how deep Gov. Murphy has drunk from the social justice Kool-Aid.  If he is presented with statistics showing that a disproportionate percentage of blacks are arrested for street-walking, will he then make legalizing prostitution a social justice issue?  That would be the logic of his thought process.

A final thought.  Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.  The Obama administration let the matter slide and allowed state-level rules to stand.  The Trump administration in the person of Attorney General Jeff Sessions is making noises to the contrary.  But with states like California and many cities openly defying immigration laws, don't expect a marijuana crackdown by the feds.  Adding to that is the fact that, for better or worse, the political constituency for legalization has grown to a force to be reckoned with.  It has supporters from the left and the right.  Legalization will not be denied, and social justice will not be the reason why.