A New Jersey state senator has introduced legislation to legalize and tax recreational marijuana.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Linden, said Monday that the bill legalizing, regulating and taxing pot for people 21 and older could generate millions of dollars in new tax revenue. Scutari noted that Colorado reported a record $1.3 billion in medical and retail sales of marijuana in 2016 and an estimated $200 million in taxes. He added that the measure, which would establish a sales tax on marijuana from 7% to 25% over five years, would also free up $127 million the state spends yearly on enforcement.

Marijuana legalization would generate $300 million in annual tax revenue for New Jersey, according to a 2016 study.
Marijuana legalization would generate $300 million in annual tax revenue for New Jersey, according to a 2016 study. Bloomberg News

“Across the country, states have successfully implemented recreational marijuana laws and it’s time that we begin shaping our own program in New Jersey,” said Scutari in a statement. “It will bring marijuana out of the underground market where it can be controlled, regulated and taxed, just as alcohol has been for decades.”

A May 2016 study released by New Jersey Policy Perspective and New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform claimed that regulating the drug ages 21 and older would bring in $300 million yearly to state coffers.

Christie opposes efforts to relax marijuana laws, but all six Democratic gubernatorial candidates vying to replace the Republican governor when his term ends Dec. 31 have expressed support for the policy change. Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, the GOP front runner, said during a Republican primary debate last week that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would likely create an obstacle to pot legalization, but didn’t indicate if she supports the idea.

New Jersey general obligation bonds are rated A3 by Moody’s Investors Service, A-minus by S&P Global Ratings, and A by Fitch Ratings and Kroll Bond Rating Agency.

Massachusetts , Maine, California and Nevada approved recreational pot initiatives last November. Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. have also legalized marijuana for adult use in recent years.

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