NJ Marijuana News
Polls have shown increasing voter support towards the legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey, which will be decided on the November 3rd election.
Feature photo source: Unsplash
If passed, Question NO. 1 would create an amendment to the state’s constitution that would allow recreational use of the drug. Notably, this would make New Jersey the first state in the mid-Atlantic region to do so.
Is marijuana legal in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, medical marijuana became legalized in 2010 but recreational marijuana is still illegal. Their medical marijuana program remains one of the strictest programs in the country. For instance, the program conducts reassessments every 90 days on patient eligibility and consequently, only serves a fraction of the population. Moreover, medical marijuana doctors in NJ also have to take a course in order to prescribe cannabis.
Two years working towards NJ marijuana legalization
Lawmakers in New Jersey have spent the last two years working on mobilizing enough support to make cannabis fully legal in the state through the bill. Although the national conversation currently revolves around the upcoming election, discrimination and policing, many states have been simultaneously working towards legalization of marijuana.
Discrimination and racism as key arguments to pass NJ marijuana legislation
The Black Lives Matter movement and the fight against the Coronavirus contributed as well, with legalization supporters riding the wave. One of supporters’ key arguments to pass the legislation is the disparity seen in black communities and other minorities criminalized for possession or consumption of the plant.
For instance, black residents are three times more likely to be charged for consumption of marijuana than white residents.
As a result, lawmakers have agreed to directly ask voters in the coming November election: “Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called ‘cannabis’?”
64% of voters endorse legalizing marijuana in New Jersey
Two recent polls have shown increasing approval of the measure. Monmouth University conducted the first poll back in April. It showed 64 percent of voters endorsing New Jersey marijuana legalization for recreational use.
Out of those, 61 percent said that they’d vote ‘yes’ on the question of legalization.
Fairleigh Dickinson University poll shows 61% approval
A poll released on Friday, October 9th, by Fairleigh Dickinson University states that 61 percent of voters would vote ‘yes’. As mail-in ballots are becoming the norm for many people, many have already voted in approval of the measure.
In contrast, only 29 percent of voters said they would and have already voted ‘no’ by mail.
The FDU poll was conducted over the phone between September 30 to October 5. It claims to have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 points. Notably, support for Question NO. 1 has gone up about 20 points since 2018.
Tax on recreational marijuana in NJ
Certainly, once the legislation is approved, recreational weed would be subject to a sales tax of 6.625 percent. This would be an approximate 4 percent decrease in comparison to other states tax for retail sales of recreational marijuana.
Additionally, local governments would be allowed to add an additional 2 percent sales tax on top of that.
Approval of the initiative would make New Jersey one of the many states in the country that have legalized marijuana recreationally. To clarify, it would allow adults 21 or older to use marijuana for recreational purposes, and not just medical, which has been the case in the Garden State until now.
Actual sales of recreational marijuana could take up to two years
The current pandemic has taken over the United States and the entire world since March. In other words, the Coronavirus pandemic could make it even more difficult for recreational marijuana to be available in stores immediately.
State legislators have to come up with regulations for the cannabis industry, which would include licensing and distribution deals. For example, the process could possibly take two or more years, which has been the case for other states such as Maine.
Support of New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy
NJ Governor Phil Murphy ran his 2017 campaign on including legalization of cannabis in New Jersey, which he promised would happen within his first 100 days as governor.
While it’s taken significantly longer than that, Murphy wants residents to vote yes on the ballot this November. He also reminded voters that the question to legalize marijuana in the state is on the back of their mail-in ballots, for those that choose to vote by mail.
Push-back on the grounds of ‘public safety’
The biggest push-back on approval of the measure has been concerns of public safety and youth involvement. However, marijuana legalization has often proven to diminish illegal use and selling of marijuana.
Potential $2 billion marijuana industry in NJ
Cannabis markets all across the country have shown to bring in big cash. Experts say that by 2024, the marijuana industry in New Jersey could potentially be worth $2 billion, generating about $124 million in tax revenue each year. Vermont is the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana. Will New Jersey be next?