Marijuana legalization gets support with Murphy's win

Posted: Updated:

Proponents of legalizing recreational marijuana in New Jersey say Phil Murphy's win Tuesday night will pave the way for pot legislation.

Governor-elect Murphy ran on a campaign promise to sign a bill legalizing recreational marijuana in his first 100 days in office. 

"The time really has come to legalize marijuana,” says Ken Wolski, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey.

Wolski says he is confident that a bill legalizing marijuana can be passed by the spring.

"We have support in the leadership in both the Senate and the Assembly and we have the support of the majority of voters in the state of New Jersey,” he says. “Over 50 percent support the legalization of marijuana."

Democratic state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, the sponsor of a recreational cannabis bill, says Murphy is fully committed to legalizing marijuana. Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney hopes to pass the measure as soon as the new governor gets situated.

Murphy has highlighted an estimated $300 million in tax revenue from legal pot that he says could help fund education programs and public worker pensions.

Wolski says that legalizing marijuana won’t just mean added revenue for the state, but a chance to bring social justice to communities ravaged by the war on drugs.

A spokesman for the ACLU says that the organization is urging lawmakers to expunge criminal records for marijuana possession. The ACLU’s 2017 study showed that black New Jersey residents were three times more likely to be arrested for possession than white residents, despite similar usage rates.

Wolski says that lawmakers will still need to work out details for home cultivation and public smoking details.

Sen. Scutari says that he will continue to meet with industry leaders as he revises the bill.

The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.

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