New Jersey voters approve recreational marijuana use

New Jersey says "Yes" to recreational marijuana.

Voters in the Garden State approved a change to the state's constitution that will allow adults to buy and use marijuana without needing a medical reason, according to The Associated Press.

Buying marijuana will be restricted to adults 21 and older. Cannabis sales will be subject to the state’s 6.625% sales tax. The amendment will also authorize the Legislature to enact a law letting towns and cities collect a tax on cannabis of up to 2%.

Gov. Phil Murphy and Democratic leaders in the Assembly and Senate supported the ballot question. In 2019, New Jersey looked poised to legalize the recreational use of marijuana but lawmakers failed to get enough colleagues on board so they agreed to put the issue on the ballot.

The commission that oversees the medical marijuana program will now be tasked with establishing a market for recreational use. It isn’t clear how soon that will happen, though.

But you can’t use marijuana legally yet. That’s the guidance from the state's attorney general, Gurbir Grewal, who said on Wednesday that the amendment doesn’t authorize “unregulated marijuana,” and it doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2021.

The big question surrounding marijuana legalization is how soon the new marketplace could be up and running. New Jersey joined Arizona, Montana and South Dakota legalizing recreational marijuana on Tuesday. Before the election the District of Columbia and 11 other states had authorized.

NJ Can 2020, a coalition of groups, supported the effort and launched a digital ad campaign to encourage voters to pick "Yes." On the other side, a group called Don't Let NJ Go To Pot opposed the question and urged voters to say "No."


Text of Public Question No. 1

Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called "cannabis"? Only adults at least 21 years of age could use cannabis. The State commission created to oversee the State's medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market. Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax. If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products.

With The Associated Press.