N.J. Marijuana Legalization Would Generate $300M Annually: Report

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New Jersey would generate millions in annual new sales tax revenue if the state legalized marijuana, according to a report.

The study released Tuesday by New Jersey Policy Perspective and New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform showed that regulating the drug ages 21 and older would bring in $300 million yearly. The research assumed graduated tax increases over a three-year period going from 5% to 15% and ending with a final 25% rate.

"Marijuana legalization makes fiscal sense, and it makes practical sense," said New Jersey Policy Perspective Policy Analyst Brandon McKoy, a co-author of the report. "Expanding economic opportunities and addressing our persistent budget deficit aren't the only reasons to legalize and regulate marijuana, but they are extremely persuasive ones."

The report estimates that roughly 343,100 New Jersey residents would participate in a legal marijuana marketplace and spend $1.2 billion each year. Currently, New Jerseyans spend more than $850 million on marijuana each year, according to the report.

A June 2015 Rutgers-Eagleton poll found that 58% of New Jerseyans questioned supported legalizing, taxing and regulating marijuana for use by adults aged 21 and older. State Senate Judiciary Chairman Nicholas Scutari, D-Linden, has co-sponsored legislation to legalize the drug, but Gov. Chris Christie has vowed to veto it. New Jersey is facing a possible $1.1 billion revenue shortfall for the current and next fiscal year following weaker than expected income tax collections in April, according to the state Legislature's nonpartisan budget office.

"For every day that passes without safe and responsible legalization, taxation, and regulation of marijuana in our state, we are leaving money on the table." said New Jersey United for Marijuana Steering Committee member Bill Caruso, a former executive director of the New Jersey Assembly Majority Office.

Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Washington D.C. have legalized marijuana for adult use with Nevada voters considering a ballot measure this November. Colorado is on pace to bring in $140 million in tax revenue from marijuana this year, according to the Tax Foundation.

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