N.J. Sen. taking colleagues to Colorado to study pot business

The state Senator who wants to legalize marijuana in New Jersey is leading a three day fact-finding trip to Colorado this week to study that state’s pot industry. Two other New Jersey Senators and six Assembly members will join Sen. Nick Scutari for meetings with officials who created Colorado’s legal marijuana business and tour the shops where it’s sold.

Scutari believes the trip could take the fear out of making it legal in New Jersey.

“The legislators need to be educated on the process and I think that the people that are out there are going to come back with an entirely different view of what this industry is all about,” he said. “I hope it’s all positive, but they’re open to ask negative questions. They’re open to look for the negative aspects of it and make their own decisions.”

Scutari says a previous visit in June convinced him Colorado’s marijuana industry is working well.

“I mean there’s been no increase in crime. I mean that the neighborhoods haven’t been destroyed. In fact, there’s been improvement because you have less drug dealers out there and they have had a big upshot in terms of policing resources because they’re not running around and chasing people for a joint,” he said.

Scutari is hoping this trip will build support for a vote in the New Jersey legislature next year on his legalization bill.

“There are some things that I think we can improve on here in our New Jersey policy, which would be a tighter regulated home grown market. That’s one of the areas that I think they have some difficulties in controlling their product,” he said.

The prospects for his bill seem dim as long as Gov. Chris Christie is in office, but a new governor will be sworn in January 2018.

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