Gov. Phil Murphy, a proponent of legal marijuana since his first election in 2017, said today that he was excited for the state to begin legal recreational marijuana sales this Thursday after the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission voted to approve seven existing medical marijuana dispensaries for adult-use recreational licenses.
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“I think relieved is the best way to describe how I feel about this – at long last,” Murphy said. “Getting this right … is a big deal, no question about it.”
The governor added that he is hopeful that the move to legalize marijuana sales, as well as earlier successful efforts to decriminalize marijuana possession, will reverse some damage done to communities of color.
“I got behind this for social justice reasons,” Murphy said. “The war on drugs had a huge deleterious impact on communities of color, yet another chapter in our country’s history.”
Though the biggest piece of the puzzle – allowing recreational sales to begin – is imminent, some questions remain, including how smaller marijuana businesses can be included and whether off-duty law enforcement officers will be allowed to partake in legal marijuana.
The latter concern comes in response to a memo sent by acting Attorney General Matt Platkin saying that such activity should be permitted. State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-Wood-Ridge) quickly cried foul, arguing that allowing off-duty marijuana use would open officers up to litigation, and Murphy said today that he was “open-minded to a legislative fix.”
As for whether he would participate in the weed-buying festivities this week, the governor was circumspect.
“It’s never been an animating thing for me,” Murphy told Politico NJ’s Matt Friedman, who asked him about his plans. “We’re trying to figure out a way to properly acknowledge the day on Thursday. If we were legalizing scotch, I’d show up with a shopping cart.”