Many have been very happy regarding New Jersey’s historic legalization of adult-use cannabis yesterday after months of tumult and delay.
While issues remain, none could have been addressed until the bills were signed.
“We’re gonna go with the bills I just signed,” Murphy said regarding homegrow when asked yesterday.
New Jersey Celebrates Victory
The trade association for the existing dispensaries, the NJ Cannabis Trade Association (NJCTA), was happy regarding legalization.
“NJCTA is pleased to see the updated compromise legislation passed by the NJ State Legislature and the final implementation of a host of interrelated cannabis legislation signed into law today by Governor Murphy. The signing of these bills reflects the final realization of the will of New Jersey’s voters, who voted overwhelmingly in favor of cannabis legalization and decriminalization via Public Question #1 during the 2020 election,” said a spokesperson for the NJCTA.
“We hope that both decriminalization and the passage of the adult-use cannabis legalization in NJ will be the first step towards sensible and responsible cannabis policy in New Jersey. That creates a fair marketplace for licensed operators while stopping the disturbing amount of cannabis arrests that we’ve seen take place over the years. We look forward to participation in the adult-use marketplace while continuing to prioritize access and affordability for the state’s 100,000 medicinal patients,” he added.
Advancing Social Justice
“Today’s bill includes prevailing elements that will advance racial and economic equity. A testament to the hard work of advocates, community organizers, and faith leaders from across New Jersey,” said Rev. Charles Boyer of Salvation and Social Justice.
“With Governor Murphy’s signature, the decades-long practice of racist marijuana enforcement will begin to recede. In a shift that emphasizes the urgency of building the most equitable framework possible for cannabis legalization,” stated ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha. “With this historic reform, New Jersey also shifts our approach to youth possession and use. By moving away from the punitive status quo to a framework that values public health, harm reduction, and the well-being of young people.
“Today’s passage of cannabis legalization in New Jersey marks the end of an 83-year-old prohibition. That was racist in origin and racist in its enforcement,” said Dr. David Nathan of Doctors for Cannabis Regulation.
“We can once again widely embrace cannabis as therapeutic medicine and restore this plant to its pre-prohibition status. Providing access for anyone who needs it,” said 1906 Chief of Policy and Health and former NJ Deputy Health Commissioner Jackie Cornell.
“The enactment of these laws is long overdue,” said NORML State Policies Manager Carly Wolf.
“Tens of thousands of otherwise law-abiding New Jerseyans will no longer be subject to arrest. And a criminal record for their personal use of marijuana. The commercial market will be regulated in a fair and inclusive manner,” she added.
Provisions in the bill allowing the use and possession of adult-use cannabis take immediate effect.
“We are pleased to see the will of New Jersey voters finally enshrined into approved legislation. It was a grotesque failure on the part of elected leadership that it took so long to do so,” stated NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri.
The Changes Created by Legalization
Three bills were signed by Governor Murphy yesterday behind closed doors. A. 21/S. 21 licenses the commercial production and retail sale of cannabis to adults. Under the new law, adults may legally purchase and possess up to one ounce of adult-use cannabis. Retail sales are subject to state sales tax. Seventy percent of the cannabis sales tax revenue will go to reinvestment in designated, lower-income communities.
The new law caps the number of state-licensed cultivators at 37 for the first two years, but not micro cultivators. Existing state-licensed medical cannabis producers will be among those eligible to provide to the retail market. It has been estimated that adult-use retailers may be operational within six months.
Murphy also signed A1897. It removes criminal and civil penalties for possession of up to six ounces of cannabis by those ages 21 and older and the possession of personal use amounts of hashish (up to 170 grams). The bill decriminalizes activities involving the transfer of up to one ounce of cannabis. It reduces criminal penalties for larger quantities. That’s defined as the distribution of more than one ounce but less than five pounds of adult-use cannabis.
Murphy also signed A. 5342. It provides for written warnings. That’s instead of the imposition of criminal penalties or fines for those under the age of 21 caught with cannabis. The Governor lobbied for the measure, much to the dismay of others. Under the measure, third-time juvenile offenders could receive community service. Provisions in the law also restrict police from conducting searches of juveniles based solely on the odor of marijuana.