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New Jersey Legalizes Adult-Use Cannabis Market

February 22, 2021


Today, Governor Phil Murphy signed three pieces of enabling legislation into law that legalizes the recreational use of cannabis for persons age 21 and older. The legislation was introduced following a state constitutional amendment that was approved by the voters of New Jersey on November 3, 2020.

The “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act,” (“A21”) expands the scope and duties of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC), which will promulgate regulations to govern the medical and adult-use industries and oversee the licensing of cannabis businesses. The new law directs the CRC to promote diversity and inclusion in business ownership.  In November 2020, the Governor appointed Dianna Houenou as Chair of the CRC.

A21 also provides that at least 70% of the tax revenue on retail sales of cannabis is to be invested in designated “impact zones” and that municipalities are permitted to impose a local transfer tax on sales that occur within the municipality.  The law also contains consumer and employee protections for those who engage in lawful behavior with respect to cannabis.  Under this new law, those 21 years of age or older will be permitted to possess one ounce or less of cannabis so long as it was first obtained from, or delivered by, a licensed cannabis retailer, which is evident by it being in its original packaging or by a sales receipt or other statement.  The new law does not permit a person to use cannabis in a public place.

The Governor also signed into law A1897, which provides for various social justice reforms such as reducing the legal consequences associated with certain marijuana and hashish offenses as well as broadening awareness of available expungement relief. The Governor also signed into law S3454, which clarifies marijuana and cannabis use and possession penalties for individuals under 21 years of age.

Governor Murphy stated, “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. Today, we’re taking a monumental step forward to reduce racial disparities in our criminal justice system, while building a promising new industry and standing on the right side of history.” A copy of the Governor’s press release can be found here.

If you have any questions about how this new law will impact you, Georgette Castner or Alexandra S. Jacobs are available to assist.