Legalized Pot Proposed in Atlantic City

Atlantic City has struggled for over a decade, with four of their 12 casinos closing in the last two years. But a New Jersey lawmaker thinks that he has one solution for how Atlantic City can turn things around: selling pot.

Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) wants to amend New Jersey’s constitution so that the city can legally sell marijuana for recreational use. Gusciora believes that regulating and taxing pot would draw more visitors and, most importantly, bring in more revenue.

“I think that you would get gamblers back again from Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New York,” he said. “And let’s face it – the two demographic groups that come to Atlantic City are the Woodstock seniors and 20-year-olds. That’s the perfect demographics for recreational marijuana.”

NewsWorks reports that Gusciora’s plan calls for pot sales to be restricted to the warehouse district, which is away from the beach and Boardwalk areas. Also, people won’t be allowed to smoke marijuana on public streets.

“Well they could use it at their home or they could have cafes like Amsterdam or Seattle and Denver,” said Gusciora. “So I think this is a way for people to attract gamblers and then feel good about themselves when they lose.”

The assemblyman has also proposed that New Jersey could legalize recreational marijuana across the state, but Governor Chris Christie isn’t in favor of this.

It’s unclear what Christie thinks of restricting pot sales to Atlantic City, but this is important because state constitutional amendments require his approval.

If the amendment received Christie’s approval, Gusciora is confident that it would also pass a public vote.

“Polls show the majority of voters would like to have legalized marijuana,” he said. “Cops have better things to do, and they could free up their time to concentrate on the worst crimes that are out there.”

Currently, marijuana is only legal in New Jersey for medical purposes. But legalized recreational use is certainly something to think about, given Atlantic City’s financial struggles in recent years.

After making a record $5.2 billion in 2006, Atlantic City was hit hard by the Great American Recession. They still haven’t recovered, and increased out-of-state competition has put pressure on the once-proud gambling destination.

It’s estimated that more casinos could close if things don’t turn around for Atlantic City. So lawmakers like Gusciora are thinking about any means necessary to improve the town’s struggling economy.