After years of back and forth regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana citizens in the state overwhelmingly voted in favor of legalization. Their vote then returned the issue back to politicians in order for them to iron out the details of how our state will proceed with the sale and regulation of this new product in our legal markets. A sticking point for Governor Murphy has been measures to disincentivize use of the product by under-age individuals. Governor Murphy has sought to have the bill establish civil fines for underage use of marijuana.
Other components of the legislative debate have been related to revenue stream allocation, licensing issues and employment law concerns related to drug testing on the job.
What seems to be part of the hold-up regarding the penalties for underage use of marijuana is that those penalties, as they are written, contravene certain legislation passed to deal with issues of racial justice. Racial justice legislation has been at the forefront of the state legislature’s debate since the nation’s unrest in the summer following the killing of George Floyd. During that time, lawmakers in New Jersey passed measures to decriminalize marijuana. Said measures ended up stalled in the state house ahead of the November election. Now, those lawmakers are concerned that their effort to end arrests for marijuana possession will be in peril if affected by the language Governor Murphy has proposed related to underage use of marijuana.