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New Jersey Voters Approve Marijuana Legalization Referendum

November 4, 2020


On November 3, 2020, the voters of New Jersey approved an amendment to the state constitution that legalizes the recreational use of marijuana for persons age 21 and older. The constitutional amendment will take effect on January 1, 2021. New Jersey is the first state in the Mid-Atlantic to legalize marijuana and the third along the East Coast, joining Maine and Massachusetts. All retail sales of cannabis products would be subject to the State’s sales tax, and if authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products.

Specifically, the amendment allows for the “growth, cultivation, processing, manufacturing, preparing, packaging, transferring and retail purchasing and consumption of cannabis . . . subject to regulation by the Cannabis Regulatory Commission[.]” The Legislature must still pass enabling legislation to create the Commission’s regulatory authority. Senator Nicholas Scutari (D), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has indicated that the legislation could be introduced as early as this week. However, Jeff Brown, a top official at the Department of Health, Division of Medicinal Marijuana cautioned that opening up sales too soon could have a negative impact on the patients who need marijuana as medicine. Therefore, the timing is still unclear.

Arizona, South Dakota, and Montana also voted to legalize recreational marijuana. Voters in Mississippi also approved a statewide measure to allow for medical marijuana use. Previously, eleven states had legalized full, adult marijuana use.

If you have any questions regarding how your business will be impacted by legalization, or want to speak to an attorney in our Cannabis Law Practice Group, please contact Georgette Castner, Michael J. Fekete, or Alexandra S. Jacobs.