New Jersey Aims to Legalize Recreational Marijuana in 2018

Medical marijuana has been legal in New Jersey since 2010. In 2018, the state aims to legalize recreational marijuana as well.

Murphy’s Promise

Governor-elect Phil Murphy has pledged to legalize marijuana in his first 100 days. Leaders of the Democratic-controlled Legislature said a bill could be passed by early spring.

Murphy’s campaign estimated that New Jersey could collect roughly $300 million annually by taxing weed sales, money which the Governor-elect needs to help pay for his other policy promises, such as an increase in funding for schools and public worker pensions. Additionally, his campaign website states, “Legalize marijuana so police can focus resources on violent crimes.”

State Senate President Stephen Sweeny (D-Gloucester) has pledged to pass a bill legalizing recreational marijuana within the first three months of a Murphy administration. Murphy said he would sign it immediately.

According to a Rutgers-Eagleton poll released in December 2017, 53 percent of New Jersey residents support legalizing and taxing marijuana. Analysts believe the state could be a $1 billion market for recreational marijuana.

Sessions’ Decision Could Complicate New Jersey’s Marijuana Legalization Effort

On Thursday, January 4, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions struck down an Obama-era policy which discouraged enforcement of federal marijuana laws that legalized the substance, a move that could make efforts to allow legal weed in New Jersey become more complicated. In 2013, the Obama administration elected to take a hands-off approach to federal marijuana laws in states that legalize it.

In a memo sent to all U.S. attorneys, Sessions reneged previous guidelines which essentially enabled states with legal cannabis to enforce their own weed laws. His action will now allow federal prosecutors in those states to decide how aggressively to enforce federal marijuana laws. Cannabis is still considered a Schedule I narcotic according to the Controlled Substance Act (CSA).

However, Session’s memo should not hinder the push to allow recreational pot in New Jersey. In a statement, Sweeny said, “We will continue to work towards legalization and will resist any attempts by Attorney General Sessions or the Trump administration to impose its will on the states and to stop the progress that has been made to reform the prohibition-type mentality that criminalizes the use of marijuana.”

So far, Colorado, Washington (state), Oregon, Alaska, California, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada are the only states that have legalized recreational marijuana.

For more information, contact New Jersey Alternative Medicine today.