New Jersey legalization headed to 2020 ballot?

Last update: November 25, 2019


On November 18, 2019, New Jersey Senate President Steve Sweeney announced the Senate lacked the votes needed to legalize marijuana. Instead, twin resolutions were introduced in the Assembly and Senate that would allow voters to decide the question themselves in November 2020. Some senators who are wary of legalization support kicking the decision to voters.

To place the measure on the ballot, the Senate and Assembly must either pass the resolution in both 2019 and 2020 with a simple majority, or they must pass it a single time with a three-fifths supermajority. While MPP strongly preferred the 147-page bill, which included important provisions for equity and would have taken effect sooner, a voter referral now appears to be the only path to legalize cannabis in New Jersey. Advocates mustn’t let this opportunity to end the devastating war on cannabis slip away. But it is also crucial that social equity provisions don’t fall by the wayside.

Also on November 18, 2019, Assemblyman Jamel Holley and advocates launched a “94 No More” campaign, highlighting the outrageous fact that 94 people — disproportionately African American and Latino — are arrested in New Jersey every day for marijuana.

Urge your legislators to support the legalization voter referral and to also work to enact decriminalization and expungement in the meantime.

If you have a special connection to the issue or your community, please let us know. We are especially interested in hearing from medical professionals, clergy, former or current law enforcement, and individuals who were harmed by marijuana prohibition.

Medical cannabis program expanded

On June 2, 2019, Gov. Phil Murphy signed A20, also known as Jake’s Law — named after Jake Honig, a pediatric patient who used medical marijuana during his battle with cancer. The law institutes many much needed reforms to the medical marijuana program, including:

  • expanding qualifying conditions, including by adding chronic pain;
  • providing anti-discrimination protections, including related to education, rental housing, professional licensing, and employment;
  • expanding access, including by increasing the number of cultivators, retailers, and manufacturers; and
  • allowing home delivery.

A more detailed summary of the changes can be found here.

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