Thomas P. Costello via USA Today Network, FILE New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy speaks during his COVID-19 update at the War Memorial in Trenton, N.J., Feb. 5, 2021.
Fourteen states and D.C. have now legalized cannabis.
New Jersey has officially become the latest state to permit recreational marijuana use.
The New Jersey state legislature approved a series of bills Monday that regulates the sale of cannabis to anyone over the age of 21. Gov. Phil Murphy said he signed the bills later in the day.
“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,” he said in a statement.
Voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure last November that changed the state constitution to allow for marijuana legalization.
Under the new rules, the state’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) will oversee the applications for licensing of cannabis businesses.
“The legislation further provides for the Legislature to reinvest cannabis revenues in designated “impact zones”; directs the CRC to promote diversity and inclusion in business ownership; and contains critical employment protections for people who engage in lawful behavior with respect to cannabis,” the governor’s office said in a news release.
One of the new laws reforms penalties for low-level marijuana offenses. It “prevents 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,” according to the governor’s office.
Another piece of the approved legislation will enforce penalties for selling marijuana to those under 21.
Published: February 23, 2021