New Jersey is the latest state to legalize and decriminalize recreational marijuana.
Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy signed a package of “historic adult-use cannabis reform bills,” making the state of New Jersey the next state to legalize marijuana.
“Our current marijuana prohibition laws have failed every test of social justice, which is why for years I’ve strongly supported the legalization of adult-use cannabis,” Murphy said in a statement. “Maintaining a status quo that allows tens of thousands, disproportionately people of color, to be arrested in New Jersey each year for low-level drug offenses is unjust and indefensible.”
“This November, New Jerseyans voted overwhelmingly in support of creating a well-regulated adult-use cannabis market. Although this process has taken longer than anticipated, I believe it is ending in the right place and will ultimately serve as a national model,” Murphy said.
The legislation now makes underage possession of alcohol and marijuana subject to several enforcement actions, including written warnings, parental notifications, and referrals to community help services. Because the legislation Murphy signed decriminalizes marijuana possession, the measure makes sense. According to the local media, underage drinking is punishable by a fine of $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
A portion of the legislation allows for towns to have the authority to enact ordinances with civil penalties or fines concerning the underaged possession or consumption violations on private property. The liability for suppliers of cannabis items to underaged people is also viewed as a petty disorderly conduct offense.
State lawmakers in New Jersey, all led by Democrats, passed the legislative package Murphy signed into law to ease penalties on underaged possession for both alcohol and marijuana.
People under the age of 21 years old aren’t allowed to use marijuana products. People can also have up to six ounces of weed on their person without facing a civil penalty.
Murphy’s signature on this legislation also paves the way for new rulemaking and future proposals to evolve the state’s regulatory framework and diversify marijuana-derived products.
“This legislation will establish an industry that brings equity and economic opportunity to our communities, while establishing minimum standards for safe products and allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on real public safety matters,” continued Murphy. “Today, we’re taking a monumental step forward to reduce racial disparities in our criminal justice system while building a promising new industry and standing on the right side of history. I’d like to thank the Legislature, advocates, faith leaders, and community leaders for their dedicated work and partnership on this critical issue.”
“At long last, New Jersey is turning the page on our previous treatment of marijuana use,” said Dianna Houenou, incoming Chair of the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC). “I am excited to get to work building on the successes of the medical program and standing up the adult-use cannabis industry. It’s an honor to be part of this historic movement in New Jersey.”
Other politicians and community leaders applauded the passage of the bill. These accolades include some from U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, a Democrat, and other state lawmakers.