New Jersey’s recreational cannabis measure is approved; enabling legislation pending

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

A referendum to legalize recreational cannabis in New Jersey has been approved by voters. The constitutional amendment rounds up a three-year long effort by lawmakers. Thanks to the initiative’s passing, the Garden State is successfully positioned to begin reaping the rewards that a legal market can bring.

Although lawmakers are required to pass enabling legislation before New Jersey’s recreational cannabis market can be launched, leading senator Sen. Nick Scutari (D) has been collaborating with legislative leaders and members of the governor’s office to encourage an enabling vote as early as this month.

“We’ll build an industry; it would be a revenue-generator. I think at first it would be modest, but ultimately will grow, I think, into several hundred million dollars in the state budget,” Murphy expressed during a recent interview with Yahoo Finance. “Along with social justice, that’s a pretty good, winning combination.”

Potency concerns an issue for New Jersey’s recreational cannabis market 

New Jersey Public Question 1, the Marijuana Legalization Amendment, received 1,728,626 “yes” votes, which constituted 66.96 percent of electoral votes. A total of 853,114 “no” votes were also logged, which represents 33.04 percent of all public votes.

“Legalization is the result of years of hard work from a diverse group of individuals and communities,” said president of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, Scott Rudder. “Senator Nick Scutari’s idea that used to generate snickers in the halls of Trenton when he first talked about it has finally become a reality.”

However, the looming vote was not eagerly anticipated by everybody.

“The ballot question, the constitutional amendment, does nothing at all to limit the potency of [cannabis]. It doesn’t prohibit the kinds of products that can be sold,” said Gregg Edwards, who assumes the role of executive director of an anti-legalization group called Don’t Let New Jersey Go To Pot

Instead of legalizing the plant, Edwards was keen on decriminalization. His group is the only one to oppose New Jersey’s cannabis legalization measure. To-date, less than $10,000 has been raised as part of the group’s formal opposition campaign. 

An overview of New Jersey’s recreational cannabis measure 

Based on the question that was just approved by New Jersey voters, a 6.625 percent state tax will be imposed on all legal sales of adult-use cannabis; certain municipalities will be able to charge an additional two percent tax.

Only licensed dispensaries can serve legal weed products to customers, all of whom must be aged 21 or older. More rules and regulations are waiting to be hashed out by the state Legislature and a Cannabis Regulatory Commission, the latter of which will be comprised of five members. Currently, just one person has been appointed to the commission.

When compared to other ballot questions that have been featured in New Jersey’s history, cannabis legalization managed to attract the most funding. This is according to the executive director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Division, Jeff Brindle. During an official news release, he said that cannabis reform was among the among the top 10 ballot questions.