NEW JERSEY — In the face of a budget crisis, New Jersey residents voted to legalize marijuana, which could be a huge source of revenue for a state still reeling from the coronavirus pandemic.
Gov. Phil Murphy had pledged to legalize marijuana when he ran for election. He said the hundreds of millions in estimated tax revenue would go toward the state’s public pension payments and school aid.
New Jersey State Sen. Nick Scutari said he would introduce a bill to regulate the new industry as early as Thursday.
“Just because it passes today or tomorrow doesn’t mean it’s legal today or tomorrow,” Scutari said.
Currently, New Jersey spends about $143 million per year on marijuana enforcement, according to a 2017 report by the American Civil Liberties Union.
There had been efforts to legalize recreational usage through the state legislature, but it was ultimately added to November’s ballot instead.
All sales of marijuana products would be subject to New Jersey’s 6.625% sales tax. Towns can pass ordinances to charge local taxes as well.
New Jersey is the 12th state, in addition to the District of Columbia, to legalize recreational marijuana.
Only those 21 and older can purchase marijuana under the newly approved measure.