New Jersey voters may get to decide on legal cannabis in 2020

New Jersey lawmakers once again failed to pass legislation decriminalizing marijuana so they will instead put the question to voters. The measure has a lot of support in New Jersey, including from Gov. Phil Murphy who made it a campaign promise. But the governor's democratic colleagues in the legislature could not muster the vote.

If the ballot measure comes to fruition, it should read like this: "Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called 'cannabis'?"

In a statement released Monday, Murphy said he believes voters will approve the ballot measure.

"My belief that our current marijuana laws have failed every test of social justice and that the right course is to legalize its use by adults has not changed. I am disappointed that we are not able to get this done legislatively and that our failed status quo – which sends roughly 600 people to jail a week for possession, the majority of them people of color — will continue," Murphy said in the statement. "However, I have faith that the people of New Jersey will put us on the right side of history when they vote next November. By approving this ballot measure before the end of this legislative session, New Jersey will move one step closer to righting a historical wrong and achieving what I have spent more than three years advocating for."

Making weed legal could have an impact on the state's finances as well as the courts. New Jersey cops arrest more people for marijuana possession than every state except Texas and New York, according to the FBI.

The flip side: Those who believe marijuana is a gateway drug that could exacerbate an already frightening drug epidemic.

Eleven other states and the District of Columbia have legal marijuana. In most cases, the states' voters have approved it. Only Illinois and Vermont have done so via legislation. Michigan will begin allowing adult-use marijuana sales on Dec. 1.

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