After months of fine-tuning its marijuana legalization, New Jersey now has a cannabis law. The State of New Jersey effectively legalized Marijuana on Monday, months after voters approved it via the ballot. Several bills were signed on Monday to legalize the recreational use of cannabis for adults aged 21 and over, and also to regulate the market.

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Meanwhile, more states are quickly joining the race towards marijuana legalization. States like Pennsylvania, New Mexico, and Maryland already have lawmakers pushing legalization bills at advanced stages. The following provides details about New Jersey’s new marijuana law and how it came to pass. We also explore some additional states that are set to legalize cannabis.

Marijuana is finally legalized in New Jersey

If you’ve been following the industry or marijuana legalization updates, you’re probably wondering how this is news. Medical marijuana has been legalized in New Jersey since January 2010. However, this new law is a game-changer. The new law effectively legalizes recreational marijuana for use by adults aged over 21.

After waiting a few months post-election day, Governor Phil Murphy finally signed several marijuana-related bills into law. In addition to legalizing adult use of marijuana, the law also removed penalties for small possession and create a regulated market. The path towards marijuana legalization has been nothing but rocky. The journey has moved from a previous governor who was a staunch anti-marijuana advocate, to one that campaigned for legalization.

Governor Murphy campaigned for marijuana legalization on the road to entering office back in 2018. Why then did it take so long for this law to be established even after voters approved legalization in November? The law was stalled by a faceoff between Governor Murphy and lawmakers. The governor wanted penalties for those under 21 and met heated debates from lawmakers. Recall that we reported on how marijuana legalization talks had broken down in New Jersey. However, lawmakers eventually compromised and agreed on penalties for under 21s.

More states introduce marijuana legalization bills

As expected, more states continue to push to legalize marijuana. Here are some states with legislative bills and advanced discussions to legalize cannabis.

Pennsylvania set to legalize cannabis

After many failed attempts in the past, Pennsylvania looks set to be the next state to legalize cannabis. This is after two top state lawmakers on Wednesday introduced a bipartisan legalization bill. The bill aims to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and over. 

If passed by the Pennsylvanian legislature and signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf, the bill would also decriminalize possession of an amount of cannabis. The amount to be decriminalized is yet to be determined. The lawmakers also share hopes that the bill would generate around $1 billion in tax revenue for the state annually. Interestingly, the lawmakers involved (Shari Street and Dan Laughlin) are from the Republican and Democratic parties. 

Maryland pushes for cannabis legalization

Lawmakers in Maryland have also proposed a bill that would essentially legalize marijuana in the state. Advocates of House Bill 32 (HB32) believe that it’s a major step towards addressing social equity and racial injustices. HB32 is aimed at comprehensively legalizing, taxing, and regulating the marijuana industry in the state. 

The bill permits the recreational use of cannabis by adults 21 and over and would effectively lead to expungement for previously arrested or jailed individuals. According to the lawmakers, if this bill is passed, it would allow adults 21 and over to “possess, consume, grow, process, manufacture, purchase, or transport up to the personal use amount of cannabis.”

Another New Mexico House committee approves marijuana legalization bill

Another House committee in the New Mexico legislature has approved a marijuana legalization bill. This comes after the Taxation & Revenue Committee, chaired by Rep. Javier Martinez, passed the legislation on Wednesday. Martinez is also the bill’s sponsor and says the bill will allow adults 21 and over to possess at least 2 ounces of marijuana and also cultivate “up to six mature and six immature plants for personal use”. It would generally regulate and tax the sale of cannabis in the state. Martinez further added that the proposed bill is aimed at protecting and enhancing the state’s medical cannabis program.

Meanwhile, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham seems to be on board as she has consistently maintained the need to legalize marijuana to boost the state’s economy. Governor Michelle has always prioritized marijuana legalization and even included it as part of her legislative agenda for 2021. If the legislature finishes fine-tuning the legalization bill, it is expected to experience a smooth ride with the Governor.

The marijuana legalization wrap

As more states continue to legalize marijuana or at least propose its legalization, it’s only a matter of time before the Federal Government follows suit. While some of these marijuana legalization bills may not come to fruition this year, they are a clear indication that state governments and lawmakers are beginning to listen to voters’ call to legalize cannabis or at least recognize the potential boost it will bring to their economies.

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