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June 15, 2016

Recreational pot in Atlantic City? Assemblyman seeks ballot question

Democrat Reed Gusciora proposes statewide ballot question

New Jersey Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-15) will introduce a bill Thursday proposing a statewide ballot to legalize recreational marijuana in cash-strapped Atlantic City.

The Promoting Opportunities for Tomorrow (POT) bill would give voters a choice to permit the commercial growth, sale, possession, consumption, and taxation of marijuana within Atlantic City for those ages 21 and up, according to the Associated Press.

"A well-designed and heavily regulated marijuana industry would move Atlantic City's economy into the 21st century and provide extreme economic benefits to a new generation of Atlantic City residents and business interests, including existing hotels and casinos," Gusciora wrote in the bill.

Under the proposed legislation, marijuana would be taxed at a high rate of 20 percent of its market price, with revenue shared by Atlantic City and the state.

Specifically, marijuana in Atlantic City would be regulated by the state Department of Law and Public Safety. Revenue from the sale of marijuana would be distributed as follows:

• 50 percent for Atlantic City's general fund

• 30 percent for state transportation projects

• 10 percent for anti-drug law enforcement

• 10 percent for women's health, family planning and similar programs

Gusciora described marijuana criminalization as "archaic" and disproportionately detrimental to minority communities. Medical marijuana is currently legal in New Jersey and 23 other states, including Pennsylvania.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a vocal critic of recreational marijuana, is still reviewing a bill approved last month by the New Jersey Assembly that would avoid a state takeover of the city's finances.

Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian did immediately comment on Gusciora's proposal.