Voters in New Jersey have approved the state’s adult-use cannabis legalization ballot question with overwhelming support, making it the 12th state to end cannabis prohibition.
The yes vote on Ballot Question No. 1 leads to a constitutional amendment that tasks lawmakers with legalizing cannabis for adults 21 and older; the vote also calls for lawmakers to establish a regulatory framework for cannabis cultivation, manufacturing, and retail.
Lawmakers expected the outcome and have been preparing legislation in advance, NJ.com reports. The bill will likely be “very similar to the final draft” of a legalization proposal that failed to pass in 2019, according to its primary sponsor Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union). The legislation would apply the state’s sales tax of 6.625% to legal cannabis purchases plus a 2% municipal tax, which would make New Jersey’s cannabis market the least heavily taxed in the nation, according to the report.
The question was posed by lawmakers via a bill passed last December, as New Jersey does not have an initiative process.
“Garden State voters spoke resoundingly. They are demanding their lawmakers end the failed policy of marijuana criminalization, and instead pursue a more sensible path of regulation and legalization.” — Erik Altieri, Executive Director of NORML, in a statement
New Jersey was joined tonight by Arizona, South Dakota, and Montana in voting on whether to legalize cannabis for adults. Voters in Mississippi and South Dakota are also considering medical cannabis initiatives.
New Jersey legalizing is also likely to pressure neighboring New York — where a legislative effort to legalize cannabis was stymied this year due to the coronavirus — into legalizing more quickly, for fear of being left behind.