Marijuana legalization: New Jersey voters mull controversial ballot question

PATERSON, New Jersey (WABC) -- One of the most contested questions on the New Jersey ballot is whether or not to legalize recreational marijuana.

New Jersey residents are in the process of determining whether to approve a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana.

This course of action was taken after the legislature side-stepped the issue and left it to the voters. Opponents say those voters should beware.

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Unlike wine, where the smoke absorbs into skins and affects the taste, smoke taint in cannabis is more a matter of aesthetics. Consumers don't want ashes on their pot.

"Today's product is much stronger in terms of THC content, which is the chemical that gives you the high ... the products are very different and very kid friendly," Greg Edwards said.

If ballot question one does fly, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission will provide oversight.

The state already allows the sale of medical marijuana and there are a number of dispensaries including one in Paterson, where one customer has concerns about legalization.

"I think I'm going to vote for it but I think a lot of people have problems and maybe it's not the best thing for them, for the state," one customer said.

The city has approved a 2% tax hike on the sales of medical pot, but the owner of the business says that increase will not hurt business.

"This is not really a marginal increase to the patient and it's good for the city of Paterson," Rise Assistant General Manager Debra Karlebach said.

The mayor welcomes the business since medical marijuana has brought more opportunities and says legalization could help the city's budget in these tough financial times.

"It's not only welcome because it's a source of income for Paterson but it's also a source of employment for Patersonians," Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh said.

If approved, the new law would take effect on January 1, 2021.

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