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Regarding the recent op-ed, “Those harmed by marijuana being illegal should benefit when it becomes legal,” by attorney Jessica Gonzales:

The state Legislature was unable to pass a bill making recreational marijuana use legal, so a legalization referendum will be on the fall ballot.

Recent polls indicate 60% of voters would approve the ballot question. I encourage all voters to consider the following prior to voting:

Basically, approval of the referendum allows people 21 years or older to purchase recreational cannabis products. Unfortunately, as reported in the Star-Ledger, details for the range of products to be available are not outlined in the ballot question. This would be determined after voter approval.

Gonzales’ article focuses mainly on New Jersey’s cannabis arrests, their racial disparity, and a lack of social equity provisions. I agree with her about the $143 million annual cost of these arrests.

Obviously, marijuana for smoking will not only form that will be allowed. The list will likely include cannabis cookies, candy, drinks, etc. The cannabis industry will not be satisfied with just selling marijuana cigarettes. They want the freedom to sell alternative products that will be desired by all age groups to get high.

Therefore, the ballot question, as written, should be turned down. Residents should know all details of what they are voting for.

The Legislature should decriminalize marijuana immediately to stop arrests for personal use, but still hold distributors legally responsible.

I ask those in favor of recreational cannabis to vote “no” unless the referendum clarifies the products that would be covered, and addresses other details of serious problems that have been experienced by other states that have legalized recreational-use marijuana.

Bob Barrett, Clark

No new taxes on health premiums

As a representative of the state’s health insurance brokers, I want to voice my strong opposition against a state Senate bill that calls for a 2.75% state tax on fully-insured health insurance premiums for health benefits plans, MEWAs (multiple employer plans) and dental and vision coverage in New Jersey.

S-2676, introduced July 6 with the goal of supporting a “Health Insurance Affordability Fund,” would add yet another tax on average New Jersey citizens. Now, during this unprecedented public health emergency and deep economic disruption resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, this proposal is unconscionable and unacceptable.

New Jerseyans deserve affordable and more accessible health insurance, not another barrier to care for their employees and families. The New Jersey Association of Health Underwriters respectfully urges our state legislators to oppose such a harmful bill that would affect millions of people.

Some lawmakers contend this bill would somehow make health insurance cheaper for all. Yet, in all my years as a health insurance broker in this state, I have never seen how taxing an insurance product magically makes it cheaper. This just another way in which the cost of doing business in New Jersey will get more and more unsustainable, while we see health coverage become less affordable for both employers and their employees across our state.  

State lawmakers need to help, not further compound the financial hardships so many of us are already facing.

Desmond X. Slattery, Legislative Chairman, New Jersey Association of Health Insurance Underwriters, Spring Lake

Discrediting the disloyal: Trump hangs ‘mission accomplished’ banner

President Donald Trump’s game plan during his impeachment hearings was to smear the 17 patriots who testified against him about withholding Ukraine military funds, including Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman. Trump did this, in my view, to deflect attention from his likely guilt.

Mission accomplished, as Trump supporters took it all in with no problem.

So, Trump must have thought: “Why not try to discredit (disease expert) Dr. Anthony Fauci, as well, so you’re not the one blamed for the death of approximately 140,000 Americans in the COVID-19 pandemic?”

I’m a glass-half-full guy, so I have faith that our country can’t possibly be this gullible. This administration continues to take us down dark roads that we have no business going down, in the most disgraceful and deceitful of ways. Their tactics continue at the expense of those who have dedicated their lives to serve our country, like Vindman and, now, Fauci.

The contrast between them and the president couldn’t be more stark. Who could possibly not see that now?

Salvatore Schifano, Wayne

MVC has no excuse for the chaos

There is no excuse for the chaotic and futile mess that the state Motor Vehicle Commission leadership made of the reopening of agencies closed by the COVID-19 pandemic, as described in horrific detail in the July 8 edition.

Of course the “employees (were) doing their best,” as stated by MVC Chief Administrator B. Sue Fulton. But MVC management and administration failed those hard-working frontline employees — and the drivers of New Jersey — by failing to develop an effective plan to deal with the entirely foreseeable difficulties of reopening.

What was MVC leadership doing during the almost four months of shutdown? Clearly they were not working for the people of New Jersey!

Victory Van Dyck Chase, Princeton

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