April 06, 2020

Coronavirus Could Accelerate U.S. Cannabis Legalization

The current pandemic has Americans afraid, economically vulnerable, and turning to help from their government in record numbers.  State and local governments have so far been up to the task, but as this pandemic continues, budget shortfalls across affected areas are growing. One untapped revenue source should get a second look, Recreational Cannabis.

In New Jersey, the Governor has already put a stop to nearly 1 billion dollars in spending as a result of the impact of COVID-19.  The economic impact is likely to grow the longer the crisis continues.  When we’ve stemmed the tide of infection and death, and quenched the people’s thirst for security and safety, the economic realities of the pandemic period will still be staring us in the face.  How will states make up those gaps?  One option, legalize Recreational Cannabis.

Recreational Cannabis is already slated to be a part of our fall election in New Jersey.  A ballot question will ask for a thumbs up/thumbs down on a constitutional amendment.  This crisis makes the adoption of the amendment more likely.  The tax revenue generated could contribute to shoring up programs and policies left behind as non-essential.

New Jersey already determined that it is essential for patients who are prescribed medical marijuana to continue to access that medicine during this pandemic.  Attitudes around cannabis use are changing rapidly.  Recreational Cannabis stores in legal states were already practicing social distancing, limiting the number of occupants at a time, or per day. And even though tax revenue isn’t as high as predicted in some areas, in states with no legal market any revenue will be greater than zero.

The potential tax revenue from cannabis may cause the majority of New Jerseyans to consider recreational “essential” to the economic health and security of our state.