New Jersey: Lawmakers Place Legalization Ballot Question Before Voters

Trenton, NJ: Super-majorities of the New Jersey Assembly and Senate decided on Monday to place a marijuana legalization ballot question before voters in 2020.

Commenting on the legislative action, Garden State NORML Executive Director Charlana McKeithen said: "We support any move beyond prohibition. Now marijuana consumers and anyone who supports reform can cast a vote for freedom."

The question will appear as a constitutional amendment on the November election ballot. Senators voted 24 to 16 in favor of the effort, while members of the Assembly voted 49 to 24. State law requires that three-fifths of lawmakers in both chambers approve a resolution to place an amendment on the ballot.

The ballot question will read: "Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called ‘cannabis’? Only adults at least 21 years of age could use cannabis. The State commission created to oversee the State’s medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market. Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax. If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products."

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy had previously backed a legislative effort to regulate the personal use and retail sale of cannabis, but the proposed measure never received a Senate floor vote.

NORML Northeast Political Assistant Tyler McFadden said that expeditious legislative action would have been preferable, but expressed confidence that "New Jersey voters will overwhelmingly support the legalization of cannabis in the Garden State" in 2020.  According to a statewide Monmouth University poll, 62 percent of New Jersey adults support legalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use.

If voters approve the amendment in 2020, lawmakers will still have to finalize its language prior to implementing the new law.

For more information, contact Carly Wolf, NORML State Policies Coordinator, at (202) 483-5500, or visit Garden State NORML.