Successful vote by New Jersey lawmakers puts cannabis legalization bill on 2020 ballot

Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

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On Monday, December 16, New Jersey lawmakers initiated a ballot question that would legalize cannabis for recreational purposes statewide; placing the referendum in front of voters on the 2020 ballot.

New Jersey’s recreational cannabis proposal was approved with one abstention. The measure was given a thumbs-up by the Democratic-steered Assembly with a vote of 49-24. Meanwhile, in the Senate, it received a vote of 24-16. 

“The time to end the prohibition of adult-use cannabis is now,” declared Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, who has served in the New Jersey General Assembly since 2010.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney feels confident that the bill will gain enough votes to pass next year. If the law is enacted, people who have formerly been punished for cannabis-related crimes and offenses could have their convictions expunged.

Democratic governor Phil Murphy will not review New Jersey’s recreational cannabis bill

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has not been shy about his support for legal cannabis. He pushed for recreational cannabis as an integral component of his 2017 campaign and vowed to legalize the plant for adult-use purposes before 2018 was over. 

Despite his failed efforts, Murphy’s optimistic approach to recreational cannabis legalization in New Jersey has certainly swayed the opinions of politicians; this is clear, considering the fact that three-fifths of lawmakers voted in favor of putting a legal measure on the 2020 ballot.

Now, the proposal does not rely on Governor Murphy’s signature for approval. Instead, the fate of New Jersey’s recreational cannabis market will be left in the hands of voters in 2020.

New Jersey recreational cannabis measure includes a 6.625 percent sales tax

As per the details of New Jersey’s recreational cannabis bill, voters are asked if they want cannabis to be legalized for adults aged 21 and older in the state. 

Voters are also informed of the cannabis sales tax that would be imposed on all sales of cannabis products; the rate has been set at 6.625 percent. However, this rate could be higher if towns decide to pass ordinances that would charge consumers local taxes, too. 

Residents will have the final say on recreational cannabis legalization in New Jersey. Should voters approve the measure, New Jersey will make history by becoming the 11th U.S. state – in addition to the District of Columbia – to welcome a recreational cannabis market. as of December 2019, 33 States and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical purposes.