New Jersey lawmakers have scheduled a "fact-finding" hearing to explore legalizing marijuana as a way to reform drug laws while also raising new revenue.
State Senate Judiciary Chairman Nicholas Scutari, D-Linden, said he will hold a Nov. 16 meeting on the marijuana legalization issue that will feature health professionals, law enforcement, clergy, civil rights organizations and policy experts. Scutari said New Jersey spent $127.3 million on enforcement of marijuana laws in 2010, according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union.
"Legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana will bring it out of the underground market, making the product and our communities safer," said Scutari in a statement. "In addition, it will create revenue for the state to help fund critical programs and services for our residents."
Scutari is the sponsor of legislation to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana in New Jersey for those who are 21 years of age and older. Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon, as well as Washington D.C. have all legalized marijuana in recent years. Gov. Chris Christie has said he will veto any attempt to legalize the drug.