TRENTON, NJ – After a delay of more than three months since New Jersey voters first approved the state’s Question 1 marijuana ballot, a constitutional amendment that allows possession, sale, and recreational use, Governor Phil Murphy (DN.J.) signed into Law Three Cannabis reform laws. Legislation – A21, A1897, and S3454 – will create a recreational cannabis marketplace for adults 21 and older, decriminalize possession, and clarify the use of minors and penalties for possession of minors.
“Our current marijuana prohibition laws have failed every test of social justice, which is why I’ve been a strong advocate of legalizing adult cannabis for years,” said Governor Murphy. “It is unfair and unjustifiable to maintain a status quo that allows tens of thousands, disproportionately many people of color, to be arrested in New Jersey each year for minor drug offenses. This November, New Jersey residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of creating a well-regulated adult cannabis market. While this process has taken longer than expected, I believe it will end in the right place and will ultimately serve as a national model. “
Under A21, known as the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, the new adult-use market is regulated by the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), which also oversees applications for cannabis business licenses. The legislation also includes “provisions for lawmakers to reinvest cannabis revenues in designated“ areas of effect ”, instructs the CRC to promote diversity and inclusion in company ownership, and includes critical employment protection for those who behave lawfully with respect to cannabis .
The second bill, A1897, reforms criminal and civil penalties for marijuana crimes and limits what types of crimes can be used for pre-trial release, parole, and parole decisions. The legislation also provides protection against discrimination in housing and employment, and creates a way to lift active sentences for certain offenses.
According to the governor’s office, S3454 corrects “inconsistencies in A21 and A1897 related to marijuana and cannabis penalties for minors”.
“This legislation will create an industry that will deliver justice and economic opportunity to our communities, set minimum standards for safe products, and allow law enforcement agencies to focus their resources on real public safety issues,” Murphy said. “Today we are taking a monumental step forward to narrowing racial disparities in our criminal justice system while building a promising new industry and standing on the right side of history. I would like to thank the legislature, lawyers, religious leaders and community leaders for their dedicated work and partnership on this critical issue. “