New Jersey may revisit the question of legalizing marijuana as a way to mitigate the economic damage brought on by widespread coronavirus pandemic closures this year.
Gov. Phil Murphy is among many governors urging Congress to agree on a stimulus bill for the states, but he also confirmed Tuesday morning to Q104.3 New York's Jim Kerr and Shelli Sonstein that New Jersey is looking at other ways to raise revenues without increasing the tax burden.
"I've been on this from day one," Murphy said. "The legislature hasn't been able to get there yet, but absolutely. That is, to me, an incredible smart thing to do. We're not inventing marijuana. It exists. It's got a huge social justice piece for me. The overwhelming percentage of persons nailed in our criminal justice system are persons of color; it's a no-brainer in that respect. It's a job creator. It's a tax revenue raiser. It checks a lot of boxes. I hope we'll get there sooner than later."
Unlike the federal government, state's cannot operate at a financial deficit, and they can't print money, Murphy pointed out.
The economic impact of the pandemic is one of many questions that no one has the answers to. Murphy added that a stimulus bill remains a priority for the states, who need to ensure funding for frontline workers and unemployment benefits are secure.
It's frustrating, but it illustrates the importance of "doing the basics," Murphy said — maintain social distance, cover your face when you're in public, wash your hands with soap and water, get tested for the coronavirus if you have reason to believe you've been exposed and stay away from people if you don't feel well.
"That's all we've got right now," Murphy said. "I'm very optimistic — I'm not a medical expert, for sure — based on the conversations that I have all the time, we'll get a therapeutic sooner than later. We'll get a vaccine sooner than later. This is not a forever and for always. I think the economic toll and the recovery will be a long one. But the health pandemic crisis, we're going to break the back of this. I just know that."
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