$15 An Hour Minimum Wage Is Coming Which Could Help Folks Afford Legal Weed

Pot smoking.jpg

Last week NJ.com did a piece on the minimum wage, basically saying Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin “expects his house will vote in the coming months on a much-anticipated bill raising the minimum wage gradually to $15 an hour.”

And, just today, the Asbury Park Press did a piece on legalizing marijuana in New Jersey. Mostly the article discussed all the missed deadlines for making legalized weed a reality. As the Asbury Park Press explained in its article:

While the waiting may be the hardest part for New Jersey marijuana legalization advocates, attorney and weed proponent Bill Caruso said the process should take a while if legislators are serious about addressing social justice concerns that are integral to the legalization debate.

"There's an entire process that has to occur to get this right. It's realistic that by the end of the year, if the racial and social justice pieces are done, the Legislature will have the votes," said Caruso, who co-founded New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, a marijuana legalization advocacy group.

Last month, NJUMR decried the most recently amended version of the marijuana legalization bill introduced in Trenton earlier this year because it didn't include a process to "reinvest in communities harmed by the drug war" — including helping people in those communities get involved in the cannabis industry.

The group also wants any New Jersey legal weed bill to include the automatic expungement of marijuana convictions on the books and allow residents to grow marijuana at home. 

Part of the delay may be that Governor Phil Murphy has planned on a 25 percent tax rate on marijuana. That’s the tax amount he projected in his 2018-2019 budget. But Senate President Steve Sweeney has said the Legislature settled on a 12 percent tax rate.

All this got me thinking the reason Coughlin is pushing so hard to get the $15 an hour minimum wage through the Assembly might be so folks can afford legal marijuana with all it’s extra taxes. It’s certainly going to cost a lot more than buying weed from the guy standing on the corner yelling, “Yo, yo, what you need!”

Then again, lower wage earners, even with the increase in the minimum wage, still may not be able to afford legal weed in South Jersey. The increase in minimum wage might be enough to help them afford the bridge tolls to go to Philly and buy decriminalized weed from a street level dealer. At least the DRPA will make some money.

So, yeah, an increase in the minimum wage would likely be a win-win for weed, both legal and decriminalized.