By Derrick Stanley
A New Jersey lawmaker will unveil legislation on Monday that would legalize, tax, and regulate recreational marijuana in the state.
State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) plans to formally announce the Democratic-sponsored measure at a noon news conference at the Statehouse in Trenton.
If the bill becomes law, New Jersey will be the ninth state to legalize adult-use, recreational marijuana, joining Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.
"The national trend is toward legalization," Scutari told NJ Advance Media on Friday. "It's absolutely necessary to save our neighborhoods from drug dealers. And we can use the tax revenue. And people are smoking it anyway."
The bill will need to be passed by both houses of the Democratic-controlled state Legislature and signed by the governor to be enacted.
Governor Chris Christie, a Republican, strongly opposes marijuana, arguing that it's a "gateway drug" that can lead users to try harder substances.
Earlier this month, he said that Democrats who want to pass such legislation are willing to "poison our kids" to receive "blood money" from the tax money it will bring in.
"This is beyond stupidity," he said during a speech in Princeton.