New Jersey governor signs legislation legalizing recreational cannabis

2 mins read
New Jersey governor signs legislation legalizing recreational cannabis

MAPLEWOOD, N.J., Feb 22 (Reuters) – Governor Phil Murphy
signed legislation on Monday making New Jersey the latest U.S.
state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, but it is
expected to take up to a year before dispensaries will begin
selling cannabis to the public.

The Democratic governor signed a package of three bills
after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question in
November to legalize adult use of the drug.

The enactment came more than three years after Murphy
campaigned for governor on the promise to make recreational use
legal in the state. Legalization was delayed by political
opposition within the state legislature, even though both houses
are controlled by members of Murphy’s own party.

“New Jersey’s broken & indefensible marijuana laws are no
more,” Murphy said on Twitter.

Murphy signed into law bills that allow possession of up to
six ounces of marijuana by people age 21 or older. Distribution
and growing cannabis without a license remain illegal. The
legislation, passed earlier on Monday by the Assembly and
Senate, also eased penalties for minors for possession of
marijuana.

New Jersey joins more than a dozen other U.S. states,
including other East Coast states of Maine, Vermont and
Massachusetts, in legalizing cannabis for recreational use.
Dozens of states permit marijuana to be used by patients
suffering a variety of medical conditions.

The move is expected to boost New Jersey’s pandemic-stricken
economy by launching a for-profit cannabis industry that should
generate millions of tax dollars for the state. Recreational
sales at state-licensed dispensaries, however, may be as much as
a year away.

“We can get down to the business of establishing a
responsible, sustainable, profitable and diverse adult-use and
expanded medical cannabis market in New Jersey,” Edmund DeVeaux,
head of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, said in a
statement.

“We can stop the senseless arrests for possession and use of
a product that should have never been criminalized in the first
place, and the voters approved over three months ago,” he said.
(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg; Editing by Dan Grebler)