(FOX5NY.COM) - Gov.-elect Phil Murphy of New Jersey told Good Day New York that legalizing marijuana for recreational use will bring in much-needed revenue for the state. If the state Legislature passes a bill to do so, Murphy has vowed to sign it into law in his first 100 days in office. But the idea has some vocal critics.
Murphy said he didn't come to this position easily, citing concern for his four children. But he said that marijuana is on our midst and that the state should accept it and regulate it. He said that legalization will also have a positive impact on social justice.
One bill that has already been introduced in the state Senate would legalize the possession and personal use of small amounts of marijuana. Under this legislation, each town could decide if it wants to allow pot sales. If a town refuses, it would not be eligible to receive a cut of the estimated $300 million in annual tax revenue marijuana sales are expected to generate.
But Dr. Harris Stratyner, an addiction specialist, said he considers marijuana to be a gateway drug. In his decades of experience working with addicts, he said that he has seen a lot of marijuana users move on to other drugs in search of a bigger and better high.
Stratyner, like many other critics of the proposal, is against legalizing marijuana. And while he acknowledged that medical marijuana might have some benefits for the ill, it also sends the message to adolescents that if "my grandmother is on it for cancer" then it must be safe. He said this is a dangerous idea.
Marijuana for all uses is illegal under federal law but it is legal for recreational use in eight states and the District of Columbia.
Murphy takes office in January.