Gov. Phil Murphy threw his weight behind the decriminalization of marijuana as “short-term relief” until a 2020 ballot measure that will ask voters if the state should legalize recreational cannabis.
Murphy has previously been an opponent of decriminalization, arguing it would open the state’s marijuana business “to the bad guys.”
His sudden reversal comes less than a day after a report by NJ.com highlighting that as talks have failed to push a bill through the state Legislature to legalize adult-use marijuana, the focus would instead be on decriminalization.
“Decriminalization of adult-use marijuana cannot be our long-term solution, but we must now turn to it for critical short-term relief while we await a ballot measure on legalization next November,” Murphy said in a statement late Tuesday morning.
“Maintaining a status quo that sees roughly 600 individuals arrested, disproportionately people of color, in New Jersey every week for low-level drug offenses is wholly unacceptable,” the governor added.