New Jersey Finally Legalizes Recreational Marijuana

Home cultivation remains banned.


New Jersey officially became the 14th state to legalize recreational use of marijuana after Democratic Gov. Philip D. Murphy signed three bills into law this week.

New Jersey lawmakers have been struggling and failing to actually legalize recreational sales and use for years. Last year, lawmakers punted the matter to voters in a referendum. Those voters overwhelmingly said yes67 percent approved an amendment to the state constitution legalizing marijuana possession, cultivation, and use.

But that amendment still left lawmakers with the job of hammering out the actual laws controlling the marijuana marketplace. In the meantime, police were actually still citing people for marijuana possession despite the legalization proposition passing in November.

The new legislation will allow adults over the age of 21 to possess up to six ounces of marijuana. It'll be months before retail sales actually start, and, of course, those sales will be heavily regulated and taxed. And unfortunately for New Jersey tokers with green thumbs, residents will not be permitted to grow their own.

A debate over how to deal with underage users contributed to the delay in getting the bills passed. Ultimately, pushed by Murphy, lawmakers agreed to smaller penalties for underage use, starting with a written warning, followed by recommendations to social service organizations, and then finally $50 citations for subsequent offenses.

The legislation also contains some notable criminal justice reforms. For example, it states that the smell of marijuana is not enough to constitute "reasonable articulable suspicion" to justify a police stop to determine if a suspect is violating the new marijuana laws. It also specifies that underage users will be cited, not arrested, and will not be photographed or fingerprinted. Records for underage marijuana violations will be maintained separately from other records and will be kept confidential. Essentially, to the extent that they'll be enforcing marijuana restrictions against those under 21, the state is trying to avoid a punitive approach that will affect a young person's future.

Meanwhile, the neighboring state of New York is still figuring out how or if it's going to legalize marijuana this year. Like New Jersey, the Empire State has been trying and failing for several years now to get a bill together that will earn the support of both lawmakers and the governor.

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made legalization a priority this year, but his initial plan had some serious problems. Like New Jersey, it will still forbid New Yorkers to grow their own marijuana. In addition, it lacked a mechanism to allow for marijuana to be delivered. And, strangely, Cuomo's proposal actually increased the criminal penalties for anybody caught selling marijuana to anybody under 21.

Cuomo has now released some proposed amendments that will resolve some of the conflicts. One amendment calls for the state's regulatory agency to oversee licenses for delivery. A second amendment will keep penalties for underaged dealing as they are (a misdemeanor). Notably, Cuomo's plan does not include the automatic expungement of previous marijuana convictions.

Cuomo's amended plan still forbids home cultivation. However, Marijuana Moment notes that a bill proposed by lawmakers does allow for personal cultivation, so this is still a point of contention between lawmakers and the governor.

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  1. Cartoon Network and Uber Eats subscriptions will be on the rise.

    1. can youse imagine new jerseryites on marywanna . holy crap

  2. Unicorn Abattoir can finally try marijuana for the first time!

    1. I’ve made it this far without it. Hard pass!

  3. If the voters approved cultivation, then why is the People’s Republic prohibiting it? That is total bullshit.

    1. Because if consumers grow their own, they won’t be forced to pay for the – get ready for this Orwellian phrase – “Social Equity Excise Payments” that be imposed on each step of the cultivation, preparation, transportation and sale process. Plus the sales tax.

      1. That wasn’t mentioned above, but it was in the legislation from the start. Just run of the mill vote buying in the PRJ.

        And fuck Phil Murphy.

        1. And here is the real kick in the teeth. You have to dig deep into the 241-page bill to find this tidbit.

          If in any year the the “Social Equity Excise Payments” do not produce the revenue anticipated, the Legislature has to make up the difference through general revenues…meaning that everyone’s taxes go up to make up the shortfall in pot revenue.

      2. and value added tax

  4. While this is progress, based upon California’s experience, illegal weed will remain less expensive than legalized weed (due to the taxes, and state imposed regulations).

    Why hasn’t Reason exposed the left wing media lies about Brian Sicknick’s death?

    1. People can’t read your comments?

    2. “illegal weed will remain less expensive than legalized weed (due to the taxes, and state imposed regulations).”

      And yet my understanding is that retailers don’t have a problem with excess supply.

      This just seems to show that consumers are willing pay a premium not to associate with certain people.

      Some women will pay a premium for an electric car, just so they can charge up in their garage at home–and never have to walk past the people hanging around outside the gas station ever again.

      I’ve seen ’em do it.

      It’s the same thing.

      1. But, those “certain people” are not allowed anywhere near the pot dispensaries. Workers need a state issued card to work in the industry. To get the card, they can’t be a felon, they need to have a clean record. The cameras in the dispensaries run 24/7 to the state, if they want to keep their license, they run a clean shop.
        The average dispensary customer is past AARP age. Most of them are elderly and received their med-card for arthritis or other issues. They avoid going to the Doctor, they don’t have to deal with insurance, and the edibles they buy take care of minor pain. Not many people know that. I rarely see people at the dispensary younger than 50. Most of them are elderly females. I never saw that coming!
        Not only that. There are dispensaries in every part of town. There are very high end shops that are not scary looking at all. If you are a regular customer, there are non-stop deals that keep the prices under $100 per ounce. That ounce will cost you about $300 to $400 on the street and the quality is a mystery.
        Kids here have access to pot whenever they want it, like alcohol. Not everyone is into it. Just like anything else, many of the try it and never do it again.
        As for the illegal side, most of the black market producers ship their product out of state. They can’t grow enough of it to keep up with demand. That will change if the entire country legalizes but until then, they are raking in the money from out of state buyers.

        1. “But, those “certain people” are not allowed anywhere near the pot dispensaries.”

          That was my point.

          Some people pay a premium not to be around those people at the gas pump, and some people pay a premium not to be around those people when they buy cannabis from a legal retailer.

          1. I saw an cannabis industry report last year that estimated illegal weed still accounts for three fourths of the weed consumed in California, while legal sales account for one fourth.

            1. When CA legalized and taxed weed, the state inaccurately forecast far more tax revenue than has transpired.

          2. why is it in Californexico those “certain people” ALL need an interpreter in the court room. are they Joe the bidens’ importees??

  5. “New Jersey lawmakers have been struggling and failing to actually legalize recreational sales and use for years. Last year, lawmakers punted the matter to voters in a referendum. Those voters overwhelmingly said yes—67 percent approved an amendment to the state constitution legalizing marijuana possession, cultivation, and use.”

    The reason New Jersey has legal marijuana is because they have a referendum process.

    The reason California has legal marijuana is because we have a referendum process.

    The reason New York doesn’t have legal marijuana isn’t because Republicans control the state capitol in Albany. It’s because New York doesn’t have a referendum process.

    One way around that would be if the unions representing marijuana growers and the unions representing marijuana workers were under the same umbrella organizations as the unions representing law enforcement. In other states, that’s led law enforcement unions to cave on marijuana–the promise that tax revenue (with the help of union dues paid by legal marijuana growers and workers) would help the push to pay for their bloated public pensions.

    My understanding is that this is not the case in New York–the dominant unions representing law enforcement are not the same unions that represent growers and marijuana workers elsewhere in the country. For instance, the biggest marijuana workers’ union in the country is the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which is under the umbrella of the AFL-CIO. The AFL-CIO also represents law enforcement through the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees as well as through the International Union of Police Associations. Find me a blue state where the AFL-CIO unions are dominant, and I’ll find you a legislature where the Democrats are more likely to support marijuana legalization.

    New York doesn’t appear to be one of those states. The cops in New York City may largely be represented by the Police Benevolent Association of the City of New York, which, far as I can tell, has no association with the AFL-CIO or any other cannabis related union. Those law enforcement unions are presumably looking for good reasons to maximize their overtime hours, not good reasons to empty the criminal justice system. And if the progressives that vote in New York City are so stupid, they won’t vote for anyone who isn’t on the left, then why should they let anything happen that isn’t in their interests?

    In Democrat strongholds, where the general election is mostly a rubber stamp for whatever nominee the public employee unions pick for their own reasons, imagining that voters control the government is absurd . Apart from marijuana growers and workers infiltrating the same unions that represent law enforcement, the only other hope for a state without a referendum process like New York may be that the legislature gets so desperate for tax revenue to pay for public employee pensions, that the law enforcement unions finally capitulate for that reason.

    Biden’s bailout of the states may save the law enforcement unions from having to that, too. Until there’s a referendum process in New York, you can color me bearish on legalization there.

      1. The photo in that Rolling Stone article is very telling. Look at the gigantic stem on the bottom of that bud. Some Union worker failed the simple task of properly trimming the useless part of that bud and is passing that incompetence on to the consumer. Typical.

    1. You’re confused about voter initiatives and referenda. California has both initiative and referendum. Neither NY nor NJ have statewide initiative, thought they do have referendum. NY has local voter initiatives to amend municipal charters.

      A referendum is a popular vote. All of these states can, and sometimes do, have their legislatures refer decisions to the voters by referendum. California’s constitution gives voters the initiative power, to get a referendum on the ballot by petition. In this case NJ’s legislature decided not to legislate directly, but to put this bill to the voters as a binding referendum. NJ voters would not have had the power to get it on the ballot themselves.

      Please use these words correctly.

      1. If I used the word incorrectly, the point remains the same. New York doesn’t already have legal marijuana because New York lacks the process to get around the legislature that legalized marijuana in other deep blue states.

      2. P.S. Do you do punctuation, too?

    2. “In Democrat strongholds, where the general election is mostly a rubber stamp for whatever nominee the public employee unions pick for their own reasons, imagining that voters control the government is absurd . ” kalifornistan for sure.

  6. Pot may seem relatively harmless, but it’s a gateway drug to the harder stuff:

    Dr. Laura Berman drug-tested her son ‘regularly’ prior to his overdose

    Berman says Sammy, who was 16 when he died, “had experimented with cannabis several months prior, and when we had discovered that, obviously we came down very firmly, we had a zero-tolerance.”

    “We even got him a drug counselor that he met with and continued to,” Berman, who hosts “In the Bedroom” on OWN, says in the interview.

    “There was also a therapist that he met with once a week, we tested him regularly.”

    Berman maintained that Sammy had “never done anything beyond” marijuana before his death.

    1. Hey, you got to start somewhere.

    2. It sounds like the poor little fella was fed up with his psycho Mom. He probably killed himself so that he wouldn’t turn out to be a crazy cunt like her.
      The only “gateway” in this story was the Mom. If she eased up about the harmless drugs, the kid would not have progressed to harder drugs to spite her.

    3. That sounds like Art Linkletter’s claims about his daughter’s death, back in the 1960s. After several failed suicide attempts, she finally jumped from a window too high to survive. But according to Linkletter, she took LSD and hallucinated she could fly – something that no one who wasn’t previously suicidal ever did. But who wants to tell a grieving father that his daughter preferred to go splat rather than continue deaing with him?

  7. TL;DR version – who gets to make a profit off weed in NJ?

    1. The only one who matters. The state.

  8. That is really great. Now, if they would just legalize heroin they may be able to attract new residents that won’t mind the New Jersey leadership.

  9. It’s not really legal if you can’t grow your own.

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