On Monday, the majority of New Jersey lawmakers approved the 2020 ballot question seeking to legalize recreational marijuana, meaning that the voters are the ones to decide on marijuana legalization during the 2020 elections.
The ballot question was passed by 49-24 votes in the Democrat-led Assembly, while in the Senate, the measure was approved by 24-16 votes.
Although Governor Phil Murphy is in favor of marijuana legalization, it is not a must for the proposal to go before him.
The approved question asks the voters if they approve the consumption and possession of adult-use marijuana by people above the age of 21. It also states that marijuana products would be subjected to a state sales tax of 6.625% and the towns could choose to pass ordinances to impose local taxes.
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said that the time has come for America to end prohibition for recreational cannabis.
Once the voters approve the marijuana reform during the 2020 elections, New Jersey will become the 11th state to legalize recreational pot along with the District of Columbia. Thirty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.
After Governor Murphy and the legislative leaders failed to advance the marijuana legalization legislation in March, they settled for placing the decision in the hands of voters. The lawmakers who were opposed to the measure voiced several issues concerning the legislation, which include the fear that some former marijuana convicts could get their records cleared effortlessly. Both sides of the political divide had members who were opposed to the policy at the time.
After the recreational marijuana legislation failed to garner enough support to advance in the House, supporters accepted for it to be placed on the ballot. However, they were worried that once the question was placed on the ballot, the lawmakers would abandon their responsibility of addressing racial and social injustices on the people of color as well as the increased rate of prosecution of marijuana possession among the disproportionately affected communities.
The executive director of the state’s American Civil Liberties Union, Amol Sinha, said that the principle of representation and participatory democracy is being undermined by a constitutional amendment requesting the voters to make a decision first and find out the details of the legislation later.
The legislation question will be put on the 2020 ballot after more than three-fifths majority in the House and the Senate approve. Once it is passed, a second vote would be made by the lawmakers during the new legislative session starting on January 14.
It remains to be seen what cannabis companies, such as Willow Biosciences Inc. (CSE: WLLW) (OTCQB: CANSF) and Plus Products Inc. (CSE: PLUS) (OTCQX: PLPRF), think about this new plan to end cannabis prohibition in New Jersey.
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