Can marijuana save Atlantic City?
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) introduced a bill last week to let voters decide whether to make recreational use of marijuana legal only in Atlantic City.
It’s called the Promoting Opportunities for Tomorrow, or POT, bill.
The legislation’s preamble cites the ongoing problems in the local casino industry and competition in region as major factors in the city’s downturn.
It also states the New Jersey’s marijuana law is “archaic and has had a disparate, harmful impact on minority communities throughout the State, including Atlantic City.”
It would put the question on a statewide general election ballot — and out of the hands of Governor Chris Christine, who opposes marijuana legalization– asking whether to permit the commercial growth, sale, possession, consumption, and taxation of marijuana within the boundaries of Atlantic City by those 21 and older.
Here’s a buzz kill: The pot would be taxed at 20 percent of its market price. 50% of the proceeds would go toward Atlantic City, with the remainder to state funds and programs.
But City Council President Marty Small says promoting drug use is not the way to balance the city’s books.
However, Gusciora’s bill says otherwise.
The legislation states that a “well-designed and heavy regulated” marijuana industry would “provide extreme economic benefits to a new generation of Atlantic City residents and business interests, including existing hotels and casino.”
This is the fourth marijuana related bill that the assemblyman has introduced this year. The first three relate to changes to the currently strict medical marijuana regulations.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.