Following the widespread legalization of cannabis across various states in the U.S. in November last year, New Jersey's legalization has now come into effect.
New Jersey was one of five U.S. states that legalized either recreational or medicinal cannabis in November last year, with NJ approving the sale and consumption of marijuana for recreational purposes among those 21 or over.
The bill will legalize adult-use and possession of up to 6 ounces of cannabis, as well as creating a regulated market for the establishment of dispensaries.
New Jersey's Governor Phil Murphy said that "this legislation will establish an industry that brings equity and economic opportunity to our communities while establishing minimum standards for safe products and allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on real public safety matters."
Not only does the new legislation allow for cannabis companies to apply for applications to set up dispensaries which will be overseen by New Jersey's Cannabis Regulatory Commission, but low-level cannabis offenses will have reformed penalties too.
The penalty reforms "prevent low-level distribution and possession offenses from being used in pretrial release, probation, and parole decisions and provides certain protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation."
Part of the delay in the processing of the legislation has been to iron out kinks such as those with determining penalties for cannabis possession offenses and supplying to minors.
"Although this process has taken longer than anticipated, I believe it is ending in the right place and will ultimately serve as a national model," Murphy has said of New Jersey's legislative efforts.
Adults will be able to purchase up to one ounce of marijuana at a time, and revenues from cannabis sales will face excise taxes, with 70% of sales taxes raised going toward communities of colour that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.
However, it will likely be several months further until cannabis is available from dispensaries.
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