New Jersey is home to one of the biggest marijuana reform opponents in the country, and unfortunately, it just so happens to be the current Governor. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has always made it very clear that he does not support marijuana legalization, and even once threatened to veto a marijuana decriminalization bill if it had reached his desk. Fortunately for cannabis supporters in New Jersey (and beyond for that matter) Chris Christie is on his way out.
Last week New Jersey elected a new Governor. And they didn’t just elect anyone, they elected Phil Murphy who made marijuana legalization a key part of his campaign’s platform. After winning the race by a significant margin, Phil Murphy doubled down on his campaign promise by stating in his primary victory speech that he wanted to see marijuana legalized in New Jersey within the first 100 days of taking office. Marijuana legalization seemed inevitable until yesterday when New Jersey’s new Assembly speaker, Craig Coughlin, expressed concerns over Phil Murphy’s proposed public policy change. Per NJ.com:
Coughlin, D-Middlesex, said during a news conference that he has “not indicated” whether or not he supports legal pot.
“I want to make sure it makes sense,” said Coughlin, a member of the Assembly since 2010 . “As with any bill — particularly any bill that would create something new — I think the devil is really in the details. And I think we need to understand it in its totality.”
“Even if we’re going to do it, I want to make sure the bill is the right bill,” he added.
To date, no state legislature has legalized cannabis for adult use in America. All of the 8 states that have legalized cannabis (and Washington D.C.) have done so via the citizen initiative process. All of the states that have legalized cannabis have seen their state legislatures make changes to what voters have approved. If/when New Jersey legalizes, it will be interesting to see how different the legalization model is compared to what original initiatives in other states were, and what state legislatures ultimately came up with. Will New Jersey allow home cultivation? What will the personal possession limits be? How will the industry side of legalization look? Those are all questions that will be answered over time. I truly hope that lawmakers in New Jersey can get on the same page. New Jersey deserves legalization, and a solid version of it at that.