Home Government On 4/20, Ocean County GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Touts Pot’s Financial Benefits

On 4/20, Ocean County GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Touts Pot’s Financial Benefits

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N.J. gubernatorial candidate Joseph 'Rudy' Rullo supports marijuana legalization. (File Photos)
N.J. gubernatorial candidate Joseph ‘Rudy’ Rullo supports marijuana legalization. (File Photos)

It’s 4/20 – the day when marijuana fans worldwide celebrate their recreational substance of choice and often lobby for its legalization.

In New Jersey, marijuana remains illegal except for a limited number of medical conditions – and even then, a fee is imposed if it is to be used. Gov. Chris Christie has been staunchly against legalization, once declaring at press conference in Seaside Park that “quack doctors” wouldn’t prescribe it to recreational users in his state.

But times are changing. With Christie in his final year in office, several candidates for his seat are in support of legalization. Democrat Phil Murphy has endorsed legalizing marijuana and John Wisniewski has supported its decriminalization. But only one Republican candidate – Ocean County’s Joseph “Rudy” Rullo – has come out in favor of full-on legalization.

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“I’m the only Republican who has any concept of running a business,” Rullo said. “With marijuana, many people are smoking it either way, and it’s a wasted avenue where we can bring revenue in both to pay down our pension and fund the Transportation Trust Fund.”

Rullo said he neither smokes nor drinks, but doesn’t feel the law should stop others from doing so.

“There’s been a whole dimensional change in the last few years,” he said, since a number of states, led by Colorado, have voted to legalize marijuana. “It’s about both liberty and a state that can have a vibrant economy.”

Rullo said he would like to see a recreational marijuana industry generate revenue not just through sales taxes, but through its growth and export. Being able to grow marijuana in-state would be a boon to New Jersey’s farmers, he said.

“We’re talking about major revenue here,” Rullo said. “There isn’t any legalized marijuana in Delaware, Pennsylvania or New York.”

Under his plan, Rullo would earmark a portion of marijuana-based tax revenue to fund law enforcement, a portion to fund transportation projects and a portion to meet the state’s public employee pension obligations. He also said the state would save money by way of eliminating marijuana-based cases clogging up courts and offenders taking up spaces in jails.

As for his fellow GOP candidates who are against legalization: “These people are still stuck in the ‘40s,” he said. “Grow it in NJ and make it an economic stimulus for farmers. We’ll compete with Colorado and all these other states.”

Last November, voters in California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine approved the legalization of recreational marijuana, while several other states approved it for medical use. While legal in those states, marijuana is still a federally banned substance, and newly-appointed Attorney General Jeff Sessions has made no secret of his opposition to legalization.

Still, Rullo said he does not feel legalization would endanger public safety.

“You don’t hear about people beating up others at bars while they’re on pot,” he said.

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  • John Hall

    Please correct the Assemblyman’s stance!

    • Rich W

      Why? Is he standing in a way that he’s in danger of falling over?

  • Craig

    Yeah, exactly what New Jersey needs, another really lucrative industry where the owner can hire bus loads of illegal immigrants to do the work for him so he can ralax on his yacht in Miami and come back to New Jersey during election cycles to fund the candidate who will let him keep the cash cow healthy all the while doing nothing for the local economy through the generation of living-wage jobs or even paying taxes!!
    Not only that, but the increase in the ambivalence level of the general public caused by the intake of a drug that is infamous for its following of those who care little about much else other than where their next fix is coming from is likely what the gubernatorial candidate is looking for. How about making New Jersey famous for being the first state to embrace the hydrogen economy? I’m willing to wager that most don’t even know what I’m speaking of. It’s what’s taking place in California right now and it is something that both environmentalists and capitalists can embrace in complete agreement! I would suggest that the assemblyman go to Colorado and get high and not run for governor here if that’s how he feels about the people and economic future of New Jersey.