New Jersey's 1st Legislative District

Senator Michael Testa

Senator Michael Testa

Testa Votes No on Marijuana Bill in Budget Committee

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Says Tax Structure Ensures Survival of Black Market for Pot

Senator Michael Testa today voted against the Senate bill to legalize marijuana for personal use.

The bill, S-21, passed the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today and is scheduled to be considered by the full Senate during Monday’s session.

Senator Testa voted against legislation to legalize marijuana for personal use, citing the excessive taxation provided for by the bill, and the complicated layers of regulations it would create. (Pixabay)

“The people of New Jersey voted for and support legalization, but they didn’t vote for this bill,” said Testa (R-1). “This bill has been pushed and pulled in so many directions by special interests and legislators who want nothing more than to get their hands on a tax windfall. I had to vote ‘No’ and I am disappointed that Trenton couldn’t do the right thing and pass a bill that has not be corrupted by greed.”

Testa criticized the excessive taxation provided for by the bill, and the complicated layers of regulations it would create.

“Legalizing marijuana? This won’t do a thing to get rid of the black market for pot. In fact, the taxes on legal marijuana will practically assure continued cash flow for the street-corner dealers,” Testa noted. “People who have been buying illegally aren’t going to walk past their dealer and go to a legal shop where they will have to pay top dollar for the same product. Clearly, tax revenue is the priority here, and everything else is window dressing.”

One particular tax, a “Social Equity Excise Fee,” was added in an amendment to the bill. It requires a per-ounce tax of anywhere from $10 to $60 on transfers from cultivators, with the money earmarked for “social justice” initiatives.

“The Legislature has turned this relatively simple act of legalizing marijuana for personal use into an overly-complicated scheme that is ripe for abuse,” Testa added. “The Legislature has once again fallen into the trap of trying to do too much at once, and that never ends well.”

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