Both chambers of the New Jersey Legislature have approved legislation to put adult-use cannabis legalization to voters during next year’s General Election, NJ.com reports. The measure passed the Senate 24-16 and the Assembly 49-24.
The vote follows a failed bid in the state last session – which was backed by Gov. Phil Murphy (D) and Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D) – after legislative leaders were unable to wrangle enough support to pass the reforms.
The question on the ballot will read:
Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called ‘cannabis’? Only adults at least 21 years of age could use cannabis. The State commission created to oversee the State’s medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market. Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax. If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products.”
Assembly Speaker Craig Couglin (D) said putting the issue to votes “is both sensible and equitable.”
“While not our preferred method of legislating, public questions allow voters to affirm or deny massive shifts in public policy,” he said in a statement to NJ.com.
Republican State Sen. Gerald Cardinale, who opposes legalization, called the referendum “a wonderful idea” but warned that more New Jerseyans would die “every year” if the measure were to pass because, she says, traffic deaths have increased in states with legalized cannabis.
“People actually smoke marijuana every day,” said State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D), a sponsor of the proposal, during the debate “Can you believe it? But until your relative gets arrested over this substance that is widely used in this state and country some people will not understand why this is so important.”