More than 45 towns in New Jersey have already moved to ban cannabis dispensaries as state lawmakers position to legalize adult-use cannabis later this year, according to a WNYC report.
The movement is led by a coalition of mayors, city councils, and law enforcement officials who argue that cannabis legalization will lead to an uptick in stoned driving and that cannabis dispensaries will attract unwanted visitors to their towns.
Meanwhile, state lawmakers in New Jersey are preparing to pass major cannabis reforms in the 2019 legislative session. Expansions to the state’s limited medical cannabis program and the full legalization of adult-use cannabis are both expected. A recent spat between Gov. Phil Murphy and state Sen. Steve Sweeney, however, has highlighted major differences between top members of the state’s Democratic party, which currently controls the government.
The anti-cannabis coalition is supported by prohibitionist group New Jersey Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy, a group that cites questionable data from post-legalization Colorado and other states — mainly traffic incidents — as reasons to continue the disastrous policies of cannabis prohibition.
Voter support remains in favor of adult-use legalization, with 60 percent of New Jersey adults expressing support for ending the plant’s prohibition in a recent poll.
Currently, 10 U.S. states plus Washington D.C. have legalized adult-use cannabis, with several more states — particularly in New England — poised to legalize in 2019.