But after years of failed legislative efforts to approve the use of recreational marijuana, Monday’s move came as a long-awaited win for supporters, including Mr. Murphy, who had long pushed for the inclusion of measures to address the disproportionate number of marijuana arrests in communities of color.
“Our current marijuana prohibition laws have failed every test of social justice,” Mr. Murphy said in a statement on Monday. “Maintaining a status quo that allows tens of thousands, disproportionately people of color, to be arrested in New Jersey each year for low-level drug offenses is unjust and indefensible.”
Mr. Murphy championed the legalization of marijuana for recreational use as early as 2016, during his campaign for governor. But those efforts failed to muster enough support among lawmakers.
In New Jersey, the new industry is expected to generate about $126 million a year in revenue for the state once the market is created — potentially serving as a motivator for quick progress as the state struggles to fill fiscal holes during the pandemic. Mr. Murphy said on Monday that the market would “begin to take shape” over the next several months.