New Jersey voters approved a ballot question legalizing recreation marijuana Thursday, accomplishing what the legislature could not in multiple attempts spanning years.
“New Jersey voters have mandated an end to cannabis prohibition, and they have voiced their support for building an equitable, just market in place of unfair and outdated drug laws. Our legislators must immediately enact legislation, with a central focus on social justice and racial equity, to deliver the economic benefits and improved public safety to follow from the new law,” NJ CAN spokeswoman Tara Martin said.
The measure’s victory doesn’t mean residents can go out and legally buy cannabis. The legislature and Gov. Phil Murphy must still approve enabling legislation, which State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, the chamber’s biggest weed backer, says could be introduced later this week.
That legislation likely won’t see too much opposition. With the votes already in, moderate Democrats in the Senate who blocked a legalization package backed by Murphy and legislative leaders last March have little reason to fear reprisal at the polls.
Put another way — marijuana is going to be legal either way, they’re just making the rules
The question saw little opposition, and polls regularly showed more than 60% of New Jerseyans backed legalization.
“Legalization is the result of years of hard work from a diverse group of individuals and communities,” New Jersey CannaBusiness Association President Scott Rudder said. “Senator Nick Scutari’s idea that used to generate snickers in the halls of Trenton when he first talked about it has finally become a reality. Congratulations to everyone whose hard work has resulted in this moment.”
Still, pro-legalization groups banked millions in support of the referendum, raising about $2 million to marijuana opponents’ measly $9,913 through Oct. 20.