N.J. Pot Sales to Start Within 180 Days, Years After Murphy Vow
(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey’s legal recreational marijuana sales will start within 180 days after a vote Thursday by a state panel regulating the industry. The decision primes New Jersey as a destination for adult buyers from neighboring New York, where sales haven’t started, and Pennsylvania and Delaware, which have yet to legalize pot.
New Jersey voters in November gave their approval for lawmakers to change the state constitution to allow sales, following the legislature’s years-long failure to enact legislation on its own. That still left users without places to legally buy pot while the state Cannabis Regulatory Commission worked on rules guiding dispensaries, growers and other parts of the market.
While 17 states in addition to New Jersey have legalized pot, the drug remains banned on the federal level. In February, New Jersey stopped prosecuting low-level marijuana violations, a step taken earlier by states including California and Colorado.
Governor Phil Murphy in 2019 estimated that the state could see $80 million in tax revenue in the first full fiscal year of legalized recreational and medical marijuana. Some New Jersey towns, free to enact business fees of their own, expect major demand from out-of-state visitors.
Newark, with rail access to New York City, is working on fees for cultivators, manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers. Jersey City, one train stop from Manhattan, in June approved areas where the businesses may set up. Trenton, the state capital and directly across the Delaware River from Pennsylvania, scheduled a city council vote for Thursday on business locations.
New Jersey allowed local governments to set some rules about marijuana businesses, and about 64% of the state’s 565 towns so far won’t allow pot sales, according to data from the New Jersey League of Municipalities. Among them are Camden and Paterson, two of the state’s biggest cities, and 10 southern Bergen County towns whose mayors said their commercial districts were near residential neighborhoods, schools and churches and other places that draw children.
Eighteen U.S. states have legalized pot for adult recreational use as of July 6, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a Washington-based lobbying group.
Murphy, a Democrat, pledged to legalize adult-use pot within 100 days of his coming to office in January 2018. Though he had support from the Democratic-led legislature, the process was slowed amid concerns including social justice and taxation. Lawmakers ultimately left the decision to voters in a November 2020 ballot question.
Murphy, 64, a retired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is running for a second term in November.
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