New Jersey Sets 2020 Referendum On Adult-Use LegalizationDecember 17, 2019
While recreational cannabis legalization has been largely stuck in neutral in the eastern part of the U.S.—excluding Massachusetts, whose market was worth nearly $400 million in its first year—New Jersey will mount another push in the 2020, this time via referendum.
New Jersey lawmakers yesterday approved a resolution that will allow voters to decide whether to legalize adult-use cannabis in November 2020. Senate President Steve Sweeney proposed a voter referral measure last month after legalization efforts fell through in the state capital of Trenton earlier this year.
The referendum offers few specifics, beyond stipulating that the adult-use market would be regulated by the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (which already oversees the medical market), sales would be limited to citizens 21 and over and subject to the state sales tax, and that municipalities may add a local tax on cannabis products.
Numerous concerns, including overall tax rates, the right to grow plants at home, and retail structure, will need to be addressed if the referendum passes. Advocates often point out that legalizing via the state legislature gives the state more flexibility to adjust to unforeseen circumstances than doing so via ballot initiative.
Nonetheless, advocates cheered the move. “While we’re disappointed the legislature did not directly legalize marijuana, we are optimistic that 2020 will be the year New Jersey replaces its eight-decade-long experiment with marijuana prohibition with a more thoughtful and humane approach,” said Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project lobbying group.
So far, only Illinois has managed to push the issue through its state house successfully, while all other states have legalized by referendum. With a Monmouth poll from February showing that 62% of New Jerseyans favor legalization, it would be no surprise if the Garden State votes to join the East Coast’s recreational cannabis market by the end of next year.—Danny SullivanSubscribe to Shanken News Daily’s Email Newsletter, delivered to your inbox each morning. You will also receive the Cannabis edition as part of your subscription.