New Jersey poised to see full marijuana legalization

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The Garden State is working on a law to legalize recreational marijuana use

New Jersey, which has already approved medical marijuana use, could soon see the legalization of recreational marijuana, as well. The initiative is certainly not a slam dunk, as several issues, including police guidelines and expungement, would still need to be decided. However, the pendulum is swinging in favor of full legal acceptance in the state.

When Phil Murphy was campaigning to become The Garden State Governor last year, he promised to legalize marijuana within the first 100 days of his tenure. Medical marijuana has already been approved but opponents of expanding its use, such as Black Caucus member Senator Ronald Rice, are creating some resistance to further legislation.

A renewed push, supported in part by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, could prove to be the catalyst needed to see statewide acceptance of recreational marijuana. Says Coughlin, “Use of marijuana is still a constant. Three out of five drug arrests are for marijuana. African-Americans are three times more likely to get arrested for marijuana. We’re trying to address those things, and I think, if you got the right bill, we’ll go ahead and try to pass it.”

Senate President Stephen Sweeny talked with a couple of news outlets this past August, including The Record and USA Today. In those interviews, he predicted that legislation could be passed by the end of this month. He, along with Coughlin and Governor Murphy, is completely behind a bill to authorize recreational marijuana use and want to see the state become the ninth in the union – and the first on the East Coast south of Massachusetts – that legalizes any marijuana use to those 21 years old or older.

Entrepreneurs in the state are already lining up to do business. Regulators have received 146 applications for one of the six licensed retail ships that have could be authorized in the state. The fact that the state is supporting the new franchises is a huge indication of the forward momentum seen by the legalization bill. While six months ago the possibility of recreational marijuana in the state was nothing more than an “if;” now, it is better described as “when.”