New Jersey Gov. Signs Bill to Legalize Cannabis

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, months after the state voted to legalize, has finally accepted and signed into law the legislature’s cannabis legalization language.

Full story after the jump.

After over three months since voters approved the state’s cannabis legalization ballot question, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) today signed into law a series of bills that ultimately legalize the adult use of cannabis.

The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act was only signed after lawmakers, at the governor’s behest, advanced accompanying legislation aimed at clarifying penalties for underage possession.

The legislation will remove criminal penalties for cannabis possession and legalize its use and possession by adults aged 21 and older. The laws also establish a five-member Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) tasked with creating regulations and overseeing the industry’s launch. The application period for cannabis business licenses will open 30 days after the CRC releases its regulations, which are expected this summer.

“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. 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.” — Gov. Phil Murphy, in an announcement

New Jersey is the 13th U.S. state to legalize cannabis and the fourth on the East Coast, having followed in the footsteps of Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts. Neighboring New York, meanwhile, is expected to legalize later this year.

To the dismay of advocates, New Jersey is the second state after Washington to legalize cannabis but not allow residents to grow cannabis plants in their own homes.

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