This coming November, New Jersey residents will have the opportunity to voice their opinion on the legalization of marijuana at the ballots. The exact text of the ballot will read, “Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called ‘cannabis’”? A vote “yes” would support legalizing the possession and use of recreational marijuana for those persons aged 21 and older and would legalize the cultivation, processing, and sale of the drug.
It’s been a long road for the legalization of marijuana in NJ, having failed in March of 2019 to advance legislation that would have legalized weed without the need for a referendum. Only two states, Vermont and Illinois, have legalized marijuana legislatively.
Should the public vote in favor of legalization, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), previously tasked with overseeing NJ’s medical-marijuana industry, would take on the additional responsibilities for the recreational product, effectively creating and monitoring its market. Additionally, the state sales tax of 6.625% would go into effect for the purchase of legalized weed. Local municipalities would have the option to charge up to an additional 2% sales tax, with authority from the state Legislature.
NJ would be the only mid-Atlantic state to legalize marijuana, a fact many supporters of the amendment use to highlight the potential for tax revenue and additional consumer spending from non-NJ residents. In fact, Pennsylvania’s Governor Tom Wolf has been actively campaigning across his state to push similar legislation through in an effort to beat New Jersey to the marijuana market.
Despite this, it is unlikely that the legalization of weed would happen speedily following a majority vote to amend the Constitution. Any specifics, including but not limited to, possession limits, retail regulations, and home-grow rules, would still have to be decided upon and covered under further laws put forth by the CRC and NJ Legislature. Other states that have legalized recreational marijuana have allowed a maximum of 12 homegrown plants (Michigan), with only Washington State initially making the act of home growing illegal, though a bill was recently passed to allow home cultivation. Similarly, the rules of possession vary between states, with as much as 10oz of marijuana allowed in one’s own home in Massachusetts.
It is also our understanding that, as with the other states that have legalized marijuana, the use of the drug in public places, college campuses, and college-regulated housing will remain illegal in NJ. In the instance of Colorado, for example, such overt use is akin to open container laws for public drinking and could result in citations, tickets, and/or fines.
The Law Offices of Eric B. Morrell are committed to fighting for our clients rights. Should the Constitution be amended and succeeded by changes to expungement statutes for marijuana-related crimes, our offices will be at the forefront in fighting for our clients’ right to such expungements, as well as representing any DWI cases involving marijuana. Additionally, public use and the use of marijuana in smoke-free zones will remain illegal. Our offices have a great relationship with the Rutgers student community and are a great resource should any students be charged with violating such public-use regulations. If the referendum fails to legalize weed, our offices have a long and successfully history of getting reduced and dismissed charges for those accused of possession and other marijuana crimes. If you are facing marijuana charges or have a record of such charges and desire an expungement, please contact our offices for a consultation.