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New Jersey Lawmakers Forge Ahead Following Referendum

November 10, 2020

Following last week’s election, in which voters in New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota legalized recreational cannabis, lawmakers in New Jersey have fast-tracked their work to implement the plan. On Friday Governor Phil Murphy named Diana Houenou as chair for the state’s newly created Cannabis Regulatory Commission. Houenou currently works as legal counsel for Murphy’s administration and before that was policy counsel for the New Jersey branch of the ACLU.

On the same day, state legislators introduced the bill providing the framework for a recreational market and the transition to it. The goal is clearly to begin selling as soon as possible. While it will take at least a year to license and open new stores for recreational purchases, in the meantime existing medical marijuana dispensaries could immediately transition to selling to anyone of legal age. Following California’s lead, local municipalities could ban physical stores within their boundaries but could not prevent delivery companies from serving customers there.

In New York, governor Andrew Cuomo again reiterated his commitment to legalizing cannabis in the Empire State, saying that 2021 would be the year it finally happens.

In addition to the four states that voted for recreational cannabis, Mississippi legalized medical cannabis. And, elsewhere, drug reform initiatives went even farther. Washington, D.C. voters passed a measure to decriminalize magic mushrooms while Oregon voters legalized shrooms for medicinal purposes. Oregon also passed Measure 110, a groundbreaking ballot initiative that will decriminalize all drugs including cocaine and heroin. A spokesman for the Drug Policy Alliance estimated that Measure 110 could reduce the racial disparity in Oregon drug arrests by 95%.—Danny Sullivan

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