At long last, New Jersey has legalized Cannabis. Nearly four months after voters passed a constitutional amendment approving adult-use marijuana in the Garden State, Gov. Phil Murphy has signed a bill establishing the state’s legal framework. Murphy also signed a decriminalization bill that will end pot possession arrests.
State lawmakers and Gov. Murphy had been in a stalemate over the proposed legislation, stemming from the governor’s desire to see penalties for underage possession included in the bill.
While some lawmakers felt content to leave the ball in Murphy’s court and let him either sign or veto the original bills, a last ditch attempt to salvage the legislation was made and a “cleanup” bill that includes penalties for underage possession passed the state Senate and Assembly. Shortly thereafter, on February 22, Murphy signed the legal framework and decriminalization bills, legalizing Cannabis in New Jersey and establishing a regulated market.
The amended legislation makes underage possession subject to a written warning.
Incredibly, more than 6,000 people were arrested for minor marijuana possession in New Jersey since voters legalized pot in November 2020. In the six-week stalemate between the governor and lawmakers, more than 2,000 people were arrested for Cannabis.
Fortunately, the day after Gov. Murphy signed the bills into law, the state’s attorney general ordered prosecutors to drop all pending pot possession-related cases.
While it clearly was not smooth sailing, the legislative hurdle has been cleared and an adult-use market established. Cannabis is now (finally) legal in New Jersey. Check back soon to find out what goes wrong next in the Garden State.