The argument for legalization is centered on the idea that marijuana prohibition laws have not only failed to stop people from using marijuana and created a black market, but also that states are paying an inordinate amount of money to incarcerate individuals for possession of even a small amount of pot. Indeed, according to recent estimates, New Jersey shells out approximately $127 million per year on marijuana possession enforcement costs; money that advocates say could be better spent on other needs. Supporters of recreational legalization say the state government should regulate and tax cannabis, potentially creating a multibillion dollar industry and provide countless employment opportunities around the state (not to mention the revenue from tourists looking to inhale in the state.)
Those in favor of legalization include the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, the NAACP, and advocacy groups like the New Jersey Cannabusiness association, Drug Policy Alliance, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, and New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform (NJUMR). Representatives from each presented arguments urging legislators to consider how marijuana laws have played a major role in the high incarceration rates of black and Hispanic New Jerseyans. They also urged the committee to include language to expunge marijuana arrest records in any legalization bill put up for a vote.