State legislature approved voter referral referendum with supermajority support
TRENTON, New Jersey — On Monday, New Jersey lawmakers approved a resolution that will allow voters to decide whether to legalize cannabis for adults’ use in November 2020.
In early November 2019, Senate President Steve Sweeney proposed a voter referral after finding there was not enough support in the Senate for the legislature to directly legalize cannabis. The voter referral resolution passed in both legislative chambers with supermajority support, with the Senate voting 24-16 in favor and the Assembly voting 49-24-1 in favor of the resolution.
If voters approve the referendum in November, New Jersey would join the 11 states and Washington, D.C. that have approved adult-use cannabis legalization. The decision to allow voters to decide on legalization comes as several other states along the East Coast are building strong momentum to pass adult-use cannabis legislation in 2020, including New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Delaware. Several other states may consider ballot measures next November.
Statement from Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies at the Marijuana Policy Project:
“While we are disappointed the legislature did not directly legalize marijuana, we are optimistic that 2020 will be the year New Jersey replaces its eight-decade-long experiment with marijuana prohibition with a more thoughtful and humane approach. Marijuana prohibition has derailed thousands of lives in New Jersey, while driving marijuana production and sales to the sometimes dangerous illicit market. Only with adult-use legalization can the state regulate cannabis to protect workers, communities, and consumers.”
Statement from Steve Hawkins, executive director at the Marijuana Policy Project:
“Legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana is the cannabis policy New Jersey deserves. It is unacceptable to accept the status quo of prohibition that continues to negatively impact countless lives and communities. I am hopeful that New Jerseyans will vote in favor of adult-use legalization in 2020.”