Forget Holtec, Forget The Sixers; Marijuana Will Help Camden

As crazy as it sounds, think about it for a moment.

Camden needs jobs to be widely available for any skill level.

Currently, the plan is to pump hundreds of millions of dollars worth of tax credits into several wealthy businesses in exchange for them to make Camden their new home. Legislators have said that this effort is to retain businesses which may have been in danger of leaving New Jersey, while simultaneously attempting to stimulate Camden City’s economy.

The issue, though, is that the city’s economy will barely be effected by tax credit investments unless Camden residents are able to be employed in the process. So far, that seems incredibly unlikely to happen. The companies receiving the tax credits, such as WebiMax, are simply moving their operations to Camden. Okay, so they have lunch at the Victor Pub. But, big whoop!

There is no guarantee that any company will hire a significant amount of residents in order to justify the work of the EOA, and the use of our tax dollars. Plus, when we look at companies like Holtec, Lockheed Martin, or Webimax, which are cutting-edge leaders in technology and innovation, it is very unlikely for many Camden residents to qualify for employment since the city has been plagued by high rates of school dropouts and crime for a long time. Perhaps this is all part of a longer distance plan for the future, who knows? But right now, the people who do live in Camden need more attainable employment options.

When New Jersey goes to legalize marijuana, lawmakers should readily consider legislation that only permits growing and packing facilities to exist in specific areas of the state; the areas that most need jobs that are accessible to people of all skill levels.

Is this possible? Of Course it is! If the Economic Opportunity Act can be written to almost benefit Camden alone (all at the expense of every state tax payer, mind you) then a brand new, legal, and profitable marijuana economy can exist where growth and production only exists in Camden, Newark, Paterson, and Trenton. Maybe we could also limit the location of sale for the first year or so, and really contribute to the local economies of the state’s poorest cities.

I applaud Senator Nicholas Scutari for beginning the process of decriminalizing marijuana in New Jersey. The state really does have the opportunity to capitalize on a possible monopoly in the North East region. I do, though, encourage him and other legislators to consider more for Bill S1896. A brand new economy can and should be used for more than just benefiting the Transportation Trust fund (70% of all taxed marijuana revenue), the Drug Enforcement and Demand Reduction Fund (20% of all taxed marijuana revenue), and health care initiatives (10% of all tax marijuana revenue). Such a brand new economy can be strategically implemented so that the state will end up paying less money to distressed communities by way of supplemental and transitional state aid.

What do you think about this idea?

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