TRENTON – One state senator is warning the governor-elect the effect legalizing marijuana could have on the state’s homeless population.
State Sen. Joe Pennacchio, R-26, urged Gov.-elect Phil Murphy and legislators to consider the impact legalizing the drug could have on the homeless, citing trends in other states that have already legalized the drug.
“Now that weed is legal in Colorado, homeless people are arriving in droves, while longtime residents are fleeing to other states,” Pennacchio said in a statement Tuesday. “Governor (John) Hickenlooper implored the Colorado Legislature to use marijuana tax dollars to build new housing for the homeless – money that was supposed to pay for law enforcement, healthcare, and treatment. Governor-elect Murphy: don’t be surprised if you’re forced to do the same thing in New Jersey. That revenue you are counting on to pay for your agenda will soon disappear.”
The number of homeless people in New Jersey has gone down 4.6 percent since 2016, according to a study by Monarch Housing Associates.
Homeless centers in Colorado reported an increase in people needing shelter, with homeless residents saying they moved to buy legal marijuana or find a job in the industry, Pennacchio said in the statement.
“Homelessness is down statewide, but it is not a stretch of the imagination to think that those in New York City will take a quick train ride to New Jersey for legal marijuana,” Pennacchio said. “Who will pay for all of the housing and government subsidies these people will need if and when they decide to stay here permanently? Taxpayers can’t afford it.”
Pennacchio also stated a rise in crime and increase in traffic fatalities in Colorado as reasons not to rush enacting legislation.