Adult use is supported by the state’s two most powerful lawmakers and, three months ago, 67 percent of the state’s voters backed a constitutional amendment saying New Jerseyans aged 21 and over should be allowed to sell and use cannabis.
Even so, New Jersey’s three-year odyssey toward a regulated cannabis market nearly ran aground over disagreements between Murphy, top Democrats and leaders of the Black and Latino legislative caucuses over how to penalize kids who have been caught with a loose joint.
“There isn't anyone who has supported these efforts who wouldn't acknowledge this process has taken much longer than anticipated, but certainly it is better to get things done right rather than fast,” Murphy said during a press briefing on Monday, thanking Democratic lawmakers who “kept working and talking even when things ground to a halt.”
Murphy’s comments came an hour after the noon deadline for action on both a legalization measure NJ A21 (20R) and a decriminalization bill NJ A1897 (20R), that were sent to his desk Dec. 17. It wasn’t until the Legislature on Monday morning passed a third bill addressing underage penalties, NJ A5342 (20R)/NJ S3454 (20R) — with just 20 minutes to spare — that Murphy affixed his signature to all three.
Thus, New Jersey became the 15th state to approve cannabis for recreational purposes.