Marijuana legalization could be coming to NJ with Phil Murphy win

NEW JERSEY — The Garden State may soon be greener.

Governor-elect Phil Murphy is a strong supporter of legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana. Plans were already in the works in the New Jersey legislature to legalize the drug, but it faced stiff opposition from Gov. Chris Christie, who has repeatedly said he would not allow legalization or even decriminalization of marijuana.

Murphy intends to use an estimated $300 million in tax revenue from legal marijuana to fund education programs and public worker pensions. Colorado, one of the few states with recreational marijuana, took in $2 million in the first month of sales alone.

Legalization wouldn’t just generate money for the state; it could also save New Jersey money, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. The state spends about $127 million per year on enforcement.

New Jersey’s recreational cannabis bill  would permit possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused products in solids, 72 ounces in liquid form and 7 grams of concentrate for adults, ages 21 and up. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Nicholas Scutari, would prohibit home cultivation of marijuana.

Sales would be taxed at 7 percent initially to encourage early participation. It would increase incrementally to 25 percent by year five.