Last week, lawmakers announced that marijuana legalization bills in New Jersey, Vermont, and New Hampshire are all effectively dead for the 2019 session. This litany of victories comes on the heels of a slew of other wins this year in states like Minnesota and New Mexico.
“Consecutive years of victories for public health and safety in these states is revealing that the movement for legalization is losing steam,” said Dr. Kevin Sabet, founder and president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Action (SAM Action) and a former senior drug policy advisor to President Obama. “Last week was a resounding, nationwide victory for the minority communities who are relentlessly targeted by Big Marijuana and its Big Tobacco funders, as well as families, schools, and those using roads or public transportation.”
In New Jersey, SAM Action affiliate New Jersey Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy (NJ-RAMP), began work when New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy promised marijuana would be legalized within 100 days of office in January, 2018. Now, a year and a half later, NJ-RAMP’s broad coalition of doctors, prevention professionals, and social justice activists are celebrating a safe future in 2019.
“The people of New Jersey thank Senator Sweeney for shutting down this reckless bill for the rest of 2019,” said NJ-RAMP Executive Director Stephen Reid. “We especially thank Senator Ron Rice, head of the Black Legislative Caucus, for his relentless leadership and championing the cause of those most vulnerable. This is a banner day for New Jersey.”
In Vermont, after compromise legislation last year that addressed concerns about criminalization of marijuana users but denied commercialization, the legislature again rejected the Big Marijuana industry in 2019.
“We are immensely grateful to our state representatives for putting public health first,” said Lori Augustyniak, who serves as a Coordinator for SAM Action’s Vermont affiliate, SAM-VT. “We will continue to build our coalition in preparation for future fights and maintain our state’s steady rejection of Big Marijuana by siding with medical associations, doctors, prevention workers, parents, and teachers over the marijuana industry.”
New Hampshire’s pot lobby thought they had Governor Sununu, a renowned opponent of the Big Tobacco-funded marijuana industry, over a barrel this year but thanks to the relentless efforts of SAM Action’s New Hampshire affiliate SAM NH, legalization is now being put off for this session. This win was especially notable given SAM NH’s “dominant” hearing performances.
“This victory is truly sweet for all of us who have experienced personal tragedy and loss from marijuana and its widely documented harms, ” said Deb Naro, Coordinator for SAM NH. “We thank the governor and his staff for their leadership on this issue and also our legislators for putting public health and safety first.”
Given the laundry list of state victories for pro-public health forces this year, it is clear that the American public are becoming much more skeptical about the results of marijuana legalization in the few ‘legal’ states. Marijuana legalization has spawned seen dramatic increases in drugged driving and marijuana-related crashes and fatalities. The number of drivers in Colorado impaired by marijuana and involved in fatal traffic crashes increased an astonishing 88 percent between 2013 and 2015, and driving under the influence of drugs have also risen in Colorado, with 76 percent involving marijuana.