New Jersey becomes 15th US state to fully legalise marijuana – The Independent


A 15th US state has fully legalised recreational marijuana, after New Jersey governor Phil Murphy on Monday finalised a much-debated cannabis package that voters had approved in November.

“As of the moment, New Jersey’s broken and indefensible marijuana laws that permanently stained the records of many residents and short-circuited their futures, and which hurt communities of colour and failed the meaning of justice at every level, social or otherwise — are not any more,” Mr Murphy said during a briefing on Monday.

With only minutes left before certain proposals were set to expire, Mr Murphy signed three related bills launching a non-medical cannabis industry in the nation, finishing marijuana arrests, and imposing penalties for individuals using it below the age of 21. The New Jersey governor had hoped to accomplish legalisation in his first 100 days, but it took him more than three years.

(South Dakota’s weed amendment has been challenged in court, and was overturned in federal court in February).

Even more nations, 36, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands have legalised it clinically.

Under the new New Jersey legislation, adults aged 21 and above can take up to six ounces of marijuana without legal consequence, and authorities can’t stop young people if they smell marijuana and can only give them warnings. If they violate the provision, authorities could be charged with civil rights violations.

State motives to legalise marijuana have been diverse, ranging from criminal justice reform into a desire to reap tremendous tax revenues. Civil rights advocates celebrated the news out of New Jersey.

“This is a new start — and the culmination of years of advocacy — and we have to remember it is just the start,” Amol Sinha, executive director for the ACLU of New Jersey, said in a statement to “Signing these legislation puts in motion the next phase of the endeavor: to work relentlessly to transform the principles of legalisation into larger racial and social justice in New Jersey.”

The state police union has argued the underaged use penalties, a key sticking point that was negotiated in the last minute before Mr Murphy signed the bill, are practically unenforceable.

New Jersey residents will not immediately have the ability to enjoy the new law, since the nation has yet to license any recreational dispensaries. Some expect sales to start in late 2021 and attract big need. Its medical marijuana system alone has 13 dispensaries and 100,000 enrolled patients.

According to the National Conference of States Legislatures, all but three states, Idaho, Nebraska, and Kansas, have some for of lawful access to cannabis-derived products, a testament to how much the country has changed since marijuana was a central goal in the War on Drugs of decades past, and the growing influence of this resurgent racial justice movement.

Other states like Connecticut, New Mexico, New York, Rhode Island, and Virginia, which all have medical programmes, are also eyeing full legalisation.


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