Last November, voters in New Jersey decided to make a big change for their state when they elected Phil Murphy as their new governor. Where their previous governor, Chris Christie, was a die-hard prohibitionist, Murphy has expressed an interest in legalizing cannabis within the state – and made sure that voters knew that he was holding to his word by reminding everyone of that fact shortly after he was inaugurated.
“A stronger and fairer New Jersey embraces criminal justice reform comprehensively, and that includes a process to legalize marijuana,” Gov. Phil Murphy said shortly after taking the oath of office.
This comes just as the state-legal cannabis industries have been threatened by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recent decision to rescind the Cole Memo, which protected states from prosecution. It seems that are lawmakers from states where it is already legal fighting against Sessions’ threats against legal cannabis, and Vermont and New Hampshire are both expected to consider legalization bills over the coming weeks, with Vermont almost guaranteed to pass one before long.
According to The Washington Times, the president of the Senate previously promised that a cannabis legalization bill would be on the governor’s desk within 100 days of him taking office. If that is true, New Jersey will not be far behind Vermont when it comes to being the first states to legalize through legislature.
For this to happen right when the Attorney General has decided to remove protections from the industry is even more impressive. It shows that lawmakers at the state level are prepared to do what they know is right for their state – even when the federal government disapproves.
“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana,” Mr. Murphy said while campaigning. “And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”
Not long after taking office, the new administration made some big changes to their website – including legalization being on their list of “Key Initiatives” to accomplish. The website notes that it will end mass incarceration by legalizing cannabis, and reviewing the criminal sentencing laws. Just days before, this would never have been a possibility under the previous Christie administration – so it is a comforting thing for activists and anyone who wants to see common sense marijuana policies put into place.