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Marijuana Legalization Will Be on the New Jersey Ballot in 2020

Raechel Donahue

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  • The notion to add legalized marijuana to the 2020 ballot was granted with a supermajority from the Senate and Assembly.
  • The new policy would allow consumers over age 21 to legally purchase and use recreational marijuana.

The United States is going through some changes to the marijuana legalization laws, but some states are still working to establish their own rules. In New Jersey, according to reports from Marijuana Moment, a resolution was just approved that will add a notion to legalize marijuana on the upcoming ballot next year. Both the Senate and the Assembly voted in favor of the measure’s addition with supermajority support, which means that lawmakers won’t need to vote on it again when the year comes.

Just a few days ago, the committees of both sides had held hearings as they heard from opponents, advocates, and individuals with stakes in the matter. Karen O’Keefe, the state policies director for the Marijuana Policy Project, stated,

“We’re optimistic that next November New Jersey voters will replace an eight-decade-long policy disaster with a far more sensible approach to marijuana.”

There are many lawmakers and industry advocates that had hoped to see legalization pass this year, but the matter was shut down when disagreements over the minor details took center stage. Leaders then opted to put the cannabis reform suggestion out for voters to make the decision instead.

Last month, Governor Phil Murphy expressed that he was disappointed that a passable bill was not brought to the floor. However, he believes that the voters of New Jersey will be ready to support these policy changes by November. However, for now, the governor plans to cooperate with lawmakers to bring the legislation forth that will decriminalize the possession of marijuana.

Speaking about the referendum votes, O’Keefe remarked that the action by the legislature “is bittersweet,” adding that the legislation bill, which included a comprehensive 147-page document – would’ve been able to go into effect sooner. She stated, “We urge the legislature not to let those important protections fall by the wayside. The legislature should immediately decriminalize marijuana, to save tens of thousands of New Jerseyans from the trauma and humiliation of arrests. And the state should ensure that implementation includes strong provisions to benefit and include those who have been disproportionately harmed by marijuana prohibition.”

There has been a discussion between the governors of the region to determine the best way to coordinate the budding cannabis market after legalization is passed. However, as New Jersey enters a referendum process, it isn’t entirely clear how the changes will impact the discussion.

According to the resolution that lawmakers have already approved, the ballot will ask:

“Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called ‘cannabis’?”

The ballot will also state that the use of this substance will be limited consumers over age 21, and that the same commission that watches over the medical cannabis market will oversee this sector. If approved, local consumers will have to pay a sales tax implemented by the state.

In New Jersey, changing the state’s constitution isn’t quite as easy as it may sound. The legislature must approve with a simple majority over two years in a row. In Monday’s vote, an exception was made for gaining a three-fifths supermajority, while it simultaneously approved a request to expedite the approval of expungement, which means that prior convictions for marijuana possession will be wiped clean.

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