Skip to main content

Flower in the Garden State: New Jersey Legalizes Recreational Marijuana Sale and Use in a Landslide


New Jersey voters opted at a rate of more than 2 to 1 to legalize the possession and use of recreational marijuana on Tuesday.

As of press time, over 67% of voters (numbering over 1,581,000) voted “yes” to the ballot question of whether to amend the state’s constitution to legalize the recreational use of cannabis. The Garden State now joins 11 other states and the District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana use. Proponents of the change have long pointed to the social justice benefits in a state where Black New Jerseyans are 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for possessing the drug than white New Jerseyans.

New Jersey CannaBusiness Association President Scott Rudder issued a statement Tuesday night saying, “Tonight is a remarkable, historic night for New Jersey.”

“On the questions of whether they support ending the long failed war on cannabis, of making social justice a priority and of ensuring we create thousands of new jobs, the voters have overwhelmingly said YES!” Rudder said.

Rudder continued to vow that the focus would now shift to enacting regulatory legislation, but ended by saying, “for now, we will enjoy this moment for all that is worth.”

Law&Crime spoke with cannabis law expert and attorney William Caruso, who said the decision by the voters was “great news.”

“This is great news for the Garden State but the work is not over. Now, the legislature must immediately act to adopt enactment legislation to end arrests and establish statutory guidance for a regulated adult use market,” said Caruso, a steering committee member of New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform. “We are hopeful that legislation will pass and be signed into law later this month and that adult use sales could begin in NJ in the 3rd or 4th quarter of 2021.”

New Jersey residents will not simply be permitted to light up on Wednesday morning, though. State lawmakers must first pass legislation governing the cannabis industry. New Jersey’s plan is to have a body deemed the “Cannabis Regulatory Commission” oversee the new industry; Democratic Governor Phil Murphy will appoint three of the Commission’s five members, while State Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin will appoint one member each.

Despite the progressive move in the Garden State, some things are still illegal:

[image via Bruce Bennett/Getty Images]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos