World News – United States – Recreational Marijuana Legalized by New Jersey Voters


Voters approved a constitutional amendment to legalize cannabis in New Jersey, putting pressure on neighboring states like New York

After years of legislative failures, New Jersey voters on Tuesday authorized the legal use of recreational marijuana in one year when supporters rallied around the disproportionate number of arrests for the drug in minority communities

The ballot question was passed as planned, by a wide margin, according to preliminary results from the Associated Press

The vote allows New Jersey officials to begin the thorny and potentially lengthy process of establishing rules for cannabis regulation and testing and licensing, including the number of permits to be granted – and to whom

It also instantly raises the stakes for neighboring states like New York and Pennsylvania, increasing pressure on lawmakers who support legalization to take action or risk losing New Jersey’s competitive advantage over it. which is expected to be one of the biggest marijuana markets in the country

State Senator Liz Krueger of New York, the author of a legalization bill pending in Albany, said the ‘yes’ could be government incitement Andrew M Cuomo and lawmakers must break multi-year traffic jam

“I’m going to cheer on New Jersey,” said Ms. Krueger, a Democrat from Manhattan, “and I hope that helps us beat them all the way”

Voters in Arizona, Montana and South Dakota were also asked to support moves to legalize recreational marijuana on Tuesday If questions pass in all four states, a third of the country will soon be living in one state or a city where it’s legal to smoke cannabis without medical justification, eight years after Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize the drug

The question approved by New Jersey voters called for a 6,625% state tax on marijuana sales to customers 21 or older, and allowed municipalities to charge an additional 2% tax. further details of implementation now need to be worked out by the Legislature and a five-member Cannabis Regulatory Commission – only one of whom has been appointed

In Massachusetts, it took two years from when voters approved the non-medical use of marijuana until the state’s first legal dispensaries opened up

The potential for additional tax revenue and new jobs can be a powerful motivator to act quickly in New Jersey, which is struggling to fill budget gaps left by a pandemic now reaching its ninth month The measure is expected to generate around $ 126 million per year once the market is established

State Senator Nicholas Scutari, a former city attorney who has long championed the legalization of drugs for medical and recreational purposes, has said he is putting the finishing touches on a bill that would allow the nine companies of existing medical marijuana from the state to sell excess cannabis recreational users

« We plan to move very quickly to enabling legislation, which in effect would allow medical marijuana stores to sell immediately to the general public, » said M Scutari, a Democrat who represents Union County « We are pleased to invite the residents of New York to take advantage »

Supporters of the measure cited widely divergent arrest rates as the main reason for changing drug laws

In New Jersey, black residents are more than three times more likely than white residents to be charged with possession of marijuana, despite similar use rates – a disparity M Scutari called it a « colossal waste of resources and a colossal waste of human life »

Recreational use of marijuana is already legal in 11 other states and Washington, and last year the governors of New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut – all Democrats who support legalization – gathered in New York to try to coordinate Marijuana Strategies

Mr. Cuomo identified legalization as a priority in January, long before the pandemic dealt a complete frontal blow to the state’s finances and increased the justification for seeking new products to tax

In an interview last month announcing the release of his new book, Mr. Cuomo, who once called marijuana a ‘gateway drug’, said the budget crisis New York is facing would likely help push legalization through the finish line « We need the money now, » the governor told Bravo television personality

What was once an argument centered primarily on the benefits of taxing and regulating a widely used product has been reframed as an argument with racial fairness at its heart In the United States, black residents are 364 times more likely than their white neighbors to be charged with possession of marijuana, according to a 2018 report from the American Civil Liberties Union

Over the summer, large protests coast-to-coast of protesters angered by police killings of African-American residents strengthened a key pillar of the pro-legalization campaign: with fewer drug-related reasons for the police to make stops, there would be less opportunity for violent confrontations

« It was a resounding victory We led with messages of racial justice, and we proved it could win, » said Amol Sinha, executive director of ACLU-New Jersey, who led a coalition groups in favor of legalization « We are now on the road to a fairer future for New Jersey »

The decision to put the question to voters came after unsuccessful attempts to pass a law legalizing marijuana, a government pledge Philippe D Murphy, a self-proclaimed progressive Democrat, campaigned on

Last Wednesday at 4:20 p.m., Mr Murphy sent a message on Twitter urging voters to support legalization, clinging to a number popular in cannabis cultivation

Opponents of legalization had argued that a separate bill pending in the Legislature to decriminalize the possession and distribution of up to a pound of marijuana would eliminate application inequalities without normalizing the drug use, which critics say can lead to mental health issues and create a gateway to dangerous narcotics

A group that opposed changing the state’s constitution to legalize marijuana, Don’t Let NJ Go to Pot, mounted only a muted campaign, hampered by limited funds As of October 29, he had raised just $ 9,913, compared to the more than $ 2 million raised by several groups who supported the referendum

The biggest legalization donation, $ 800,000, came from a parent company of Scotts Miracle-Gro, a fertilizer company with a subsidiary that sells supplies to marijuana growers, according to the National Commission of the application of the electoral law

A key issue that the Cannabis Regulatory Commission will need to address will be pressure from social justice groups to ensure that communities that have suffered most from uneven enforcement of marijuana laws have access to dispensary licenses The national chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People said it would insist on a seat at the table to avoid being squeezed out by big companies keen to gain a foothold in an emerging market

« This amendment has the potential to be a powerful step forward in our fight against the war on drugs – or it could perpetuate a status quo that continues to oppress communities of color, » the Rev. Charles F Boyer, the founder of Salvation and Social Justice, a non-partisan faith-based organization, said in a statement

The New York bill sets aside some licenses for large companies, then uses the fees generated to create a start-up fund for small entrepreneurs

Nonetheless, much of the start-up funding is expected to come from private equity or personal loan companies, not banks – most of which remain hesitant to lend to marijuana companies while the drug remains illegal under of federal law

Even getting a business checking account can be a big hurdle for most marijuana entrepreneurs, forcing many to rely primarily on cash transactions, according to Nathaniel Gurien, managing director of Fincann, a New York-based company that helps negotiate relationships between banks and cannabis sellers

Details of who is allowed to test marijuana products – as well as how often tests are done and what components are looked at – also need to be finalized

« The more standardized it is, the more education there will be and the more we can help people understand the benefits of this plant, » said Kristen Goedde, founder of Trichome Analytical, a hemp analysis company. which opened in July in Mont Laurel, NJ

It’s illegal to transport marijuana between states But the benefit of opening dispensaries a short drive from New York City, home to more than eight million people, is indisputable

« If New Jersey got there first and we got there later, I guarantee the busiest group of marijuana retail stores in New Jersey would be right across the Lincoln Tunnel and Fort Lee, right next to the George Washington Bridge, ”said SP Krueger, Manhattan State Senator

« If our immediate neighbors go down the road, » she added, « of course that will bite our market »

Cannabis, legalization, New Jersey

News from the world – United States – Recreational marijuana legalized by New Jersey voters


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