Substantial changes are coming to the state of New Jersey now that active cannabis opponent Chris Christie’s term as governor is coming to an end. The current Garden State governor has made it a priority during his time in office to prevent cannabis legalization from taking place – swearing that while he had a say, it would not be legal.
He even went so far as to prevent legislation that would have expanded access to medical marijuana – only allowing small (yet sometimes significant) changes to take place in recent years. That is all coming to an end, however, as voters in the state have made their decision to elect a more progressive democratic candidate: Phil Murphy.
“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana,” Murphy said. “And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”
Throughout his campaign for governor, Murphy has stayed consistent on the fact that he wants to see possession, use and sale of cannabis legalized. More importantly, while many lawmakers in the U.S. look at the amount of money they are losing out on by not taxing cannabis sales, Murphy is more concerned with the negative impact criminalization has had on communities.
In a general election debate, Murphy said simple decriminalization isn’t enough because “the drug industry stays underground, run by the same people and it’s unregulated, so therefore minors in particular are exposed to that. But set aside the fact you don’t earn the tax revenue, which is also a reality, the fact is it remains the wild west.”
Murphy has been consistent, bringing up the issue of legalization on more than one occasion – and bringing up all the points that have been made by activists and advocates in recent years as legalization spreads from state to state.
“We are going to have a new governor in January 2018,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney said. “As soon as the governor gets situated we are all here and we intend to move quickly on it.”
Lawmakers in New Jersey have previously made attempts to legalize cannabis through legislation – however under Governor Christie no plan to legalize was ever going to take hold. Now however, lawmakers are preparing for a new administration under a much more reasonable, open-minded governor who, from the sounds of it, will be more than happy to sign such legislation into law.
Within the next year, we could likely see New Jersey become the first – or at least one of the first – states to pass common-sense legislation to legalize cannabis, without being prompted by a voter initiative.