New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy recently signed three new laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for adults age 21 and older.
The new bills were signed on Feb. 22, and went into effect immediately across the state.
The Democratic governor has had recreational legalization on his radar since he first campaigned, and was finally able to achieve that important step for his state this year.
With these bills, New Jersey became the thirteenth state in the U.S. to legalize recreational use, and Murphy has stated that he believes this new legislation will improve the social, racial, and economic systems of the state.
Immediately, police were ordered to cease arrests for small marijuana possession charges. Possession of six ounces or less and recreational use on private property, have both been legalized across the state.
The bills also put in place a firm tax structure for legal weed sales. Seventy percent of marijuana sales tax revenue will be sent to marginalized communities that have been most affected by drug regulations.
Marijuana laws have historically caused the disproportionate incarceration of Black people, and Gov. Murphy is hopeful that these new bills will offer a step towards equality while also bringing in a large tax revenue for the state.
Fifteen percent of the revenue is also being allocated to prevention and deterrence of underage drug use, as usage and sales will be restricted to adults over the age of 21.
Despite this step forward, it may still be up to six months before residents are able to purchase from a dispensary, as state regulators are still working on providing licenses and configuring the legal marketplace.
Regulating and finding businesses to sell recreational marijuana will continue to be a struggle and process for the state government.
The legalization comes as good news for our ESU students that live in New Jersey, and many are hopeful that Pennsylvania will follow in its footsteps soon.
As of right now, Pa. has no recreational marijuana legislation. Democratic Governor Tom Wolf and Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman have pushed for this legislation, but have not yet released any official proposals or bills.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Pa. for nearly five years, and many feel that recreational use should be legalized as the next step.
In addition, Pennsylvania law currently labels any amount of possession for personal use as a misdemeanor, with the exception of a few major cities in which it has been decriminalized.
As more and more states put recreational marijuana legislation into place, Pa. may benefit from exploring the economic and social advancements that come from legalization.
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