After years of failed efforts and negotiations, the state of New Jersey just achieved a big achievement.
The state has finally legalized recreational cannabis.
It was this week that Gov. Phil Murphy was able to keep his promise that he made on his 2017 campaign about legalizing the plant.
On Monday the governor signed the legislation that legalizes cannabis for adults, decriminalizes the possession of up to six ounces of the drug and codifies criminal justice reforms in New Jersey.
It was last November that 67% of the state’s voters had voted on a constitutional amendment where adults aged 21 and over should be allowed to use and sell the plant.
“There isn’t anyone who has supported these efforts who wouldn’t acknowledge this process has taken much longer than anticipated, but certainly it is better to get things done right rather than fast,” said Murphy during a press briefing on Monday.
The governor thanked Democratic lawmakers who “kept working and talking even when things ground to a halt.”
New Jersey is now the 15th state to approve cannabis for recreational purposes.
“This process may have had its fits and starts, but it is ending in the right place,” the governor said.
“No one is happy, and nothing is perfect. And let’s not let the pursuit of the perfect be the enemy of the good,” Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), the cannabis bills’ lead sponsor. Scutari made the remarks before the upper house voted, 23-12, to send the bill to the governor. “This is a topic that needs to be put behind us.”
“When people blanched at the idea that this was solely about money from recreation, and talked through the idea that this was about social equity and activism, this was our collective opportunity — all of us — to actually put words into action,” said Sen.
Troy Singleton (D-Burlington). “That’s how a lot of the principles in this clean up bill were framed.”
“We’ve gone too far long without any action and, look, based on the numbers, we’ve lost the opportunity to create jobs, we’ve lost revenue,” Ed DeVeaux of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association said in an interview late last week, adding that a reported 6,000 people have been arrested for cannabis since New Jerseyans voted to legalize the drug in November. “We’ve continued to hurt people.”