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NJ voted to legalize marijuana. What comes next?

Video and narration by Omar Farah '23

On Election Day, New Jersey voters overwhelmingly supported — with 67 percent approval — a constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana for those over the age of 21. However, the state legislature still needs to pass a bill on the matter before the drug becomes legal. 

The path forward for the full legalization of cannabis in New Jersey is long and complicated.

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Here are the answers to all of your weed-related questions:

When will weed be legal?

We don’t know. 

The New Jersey State Senate passed legislation to decriminalize the possession of up to six ounces of marijuana on Monday. However, a controversial statute regarding legal penalties for the possession of psychedelic mushrooms has stalled the bill in the State Assembly. 

This bill is not the end point. Instead, it is simply an interim measure until another bill for full legalization of the drug is ironed out. 

Until either a bill on decriminalization or full legalization passes, use of marijuana in New Jersey is still prohibited under state law. The law will continue to be enforced, according to Attorney General Gurbir Grewal.

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State Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nick Scutari has proposed an ambitious timeline, claiming that legislation to open the market could come in weeks if not days. However, many of his colleagues have warned that it could take well into 2021 for the industry to open given the complexities of industry regulation.

The time between victory at the ballot box and a bill for legalization varies amongst the states who have already legalized cannabis. While Nevada passed legislation just 53 days after the referendum passed, it took California, Colorado, Washington, and Michigan all over a year to do the same.


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Will I be allowed to use cannabis on campus?

While the state is yet to come to an agreement on the specifics of implementing the legalization of marijuana, the University does not currently believe on-campus recreational cannabis use will be permitted.

“When the state passes a law implementing the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana, the University will review the law carefully,” Deputy University Spokesperson Michael Hotchkiss wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian. “It is our understanding that state law will prohibit the consumption of marijuana on property owned, leased or controlled by the University (indoors and outdoors)."

“Moreover, the University is still required to comply with federal law, under which marijuana is illegal and not permitted on University property or as part of any of the University’s activities,” Hotchkiss added. 

As an institution that takes federal funds, breaking federal law could jeopardize this funding. 

“The Department of Public Safety will follow all applicable laws relating to decriminalizing marijuana,” Hotchkiss wrote. 

Will it be taxed? 

The current bill being debated includes a 6.625 percent sales tax on marijuana. This marijuana excise tax will be the smallest of the states which have legalized the drug. Most states with excise taxes on marijuana charge 15 percent. In some states, the products are simply subject to a general sales tax, which in states like Washington can be as high as 37 percent.

There is also room in the proposed bill for municipalities to add an additional tax. 

However, the magnitude of the tax has not sparked as much conversation as the target of the future tax revenue. 

Although the proposed legislation lays out a quota of 15 percent of marijuana sales licenses for racial minorities and 15 percent for women and veterans, many organizers and state lawmakers are calling for more focus on racial justice and reinvestment into communities of color impacted by the war on drugs. 

Assemblyman Jamel Holley has been vocal on Twitter since the election, issuing a call for swift legislation dedicated to remedying the harm of racial and social injustice. 



The American Civil Liberties Union branch in New Jersey is actively lobbying for similar changes to the bill, claiming that these pieces of the legislation are part of the voter's mandate. 



Politico is reporting that momentum is slowing as state lawmakers argue whether to prioritize accessibility for marginalized communities via a lower excise tax or whether to focus on using tax revenue to redirect resources toward those same communities.  

Where will it be sold?

The drug will only be sold by vendors with a valid permit to sell the drug recreationally. The bill specifies, as is the case in many other countries with legal marijuana, that vendors will be expected to sell in an "enclosed" space.

Delivery will be permitted only by certified “cannabis handlers.”

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