Scutari, a Democrat, said allowing adults to legally buy marijuana to use recreationally would curb the drug sales-fueled crime that grips several New Jersey cities and reduce the number of people who get criminal records for pot possession. He also said regulators could ensure the safety of the pot people buy legally.
Part of his argument is also fiscal: It would save, he said, more than $100 million annually if police and courts didn’t have to deal with marijuana as a crime and learn from a cannabis college to implement.
It also would bring more money into the state coffers through a 7 percent sales tax, he said. He did not know how much money legalization would generate but said he expects it to be more than $100 million annually.
“It’s not about the money, but certainly we can’t ignore the benefits of having money at our disposal,” he said.
Under Scutari’s plan, which also is being introduced in the Assembly, 70 percent of the state’s tax revenue from pot would go to a transportation fund. State officials have been wrestling with how to pay for infrastructure upgrades.
“As we’ve seen, trying to get a gasoline tax enacted in this state looks to be an even tougher measure,” Scuatari said.
Twenty percent of the tax revenue would be earmarked for drug enforcement and demand reduction, and 10 percent would go toward women’s health.