Could Legal Weed Help End Homelessness?

Assemblyman Jamel Holley, D-Union

Assemblyman Jamel Holley Proposes Ways to Spend the Tax Money to End Homelessness

On July 17, NJ.Com reported, “New N.J. Legal Weed Plan Would Remove Limit on Pot Shops, Make it Easier to Clear Convictions.” Assemblyman Jamel Holley, D-Union proposed amendments to Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, original bill that could help to end homelessness in NJ.

“’These amendments can take it to the next level,’ Holley said, adding that his changes could be plugged right into Scutari’s bill. Holley thinks these changes will win enough votes to pass recreational marijuana in New Jersey.”

Two of the biggest proposed policy changes in Holley’s amendments to the legal weed bill include funding to end homelessness.

“Scutari’s bill capped the number of dispensaries at 218 – 98 medical marijuana dispensaries and 120 recreational shops. Holley’s plan wouldn’t set a cap at all, allowing state regulators to determine how many marijuana retail locations there would be based on the demand.”

“If marijuana were to become legal in New Jersey, people with low-level marijuana possession convictions would be eligible to have those charges cleared from their records. But Holley wants to make it easier for people.

Borrowing from a plan proposed by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, D-Union, Holley is calling for expedited expungements and a program to help people get their records cleared.

Previous legalization bills have only said that people would be eligible to apply to have their convictions cleared.”

Among Holley’s proposals for how the potential new tax revenue can be spent are:

  • 20 percent would go to the New Jersey Public Education Trust Fund.
  • 15 percent would go to youth drug prevention and education.
  • 15 percent would go toward mental health counseling and drug prevention.
  • 15 percent would go toward funding homeless prevention programs.
  • The remainder would be used for the Justice Reinvestment Community Grants Fund, which would provide money to communities afflicted with disproportionately high marijuana arrest rates.

The proposed changes provide advocates working to end homelessness with the opportunity to ensure that the proposed 15% targeted towards homeless prevention truly addresses the homelessness and housing crisis. By some estimates, as much as $45 million a year based on the $300 million in total taxes could be used to fund permanent housing for the homeless.

“This could be an excellent way to fund the Special Needs Housing Trust Fund,” said Richard W. Brown. “The Trust Fund was an effective tool in building homes that helped to end homelessness.”

Legal Weed Proposal

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