The dark days of prohibition could soon come to an end in New Jersey. Last night, Phil Murphy - the Democratic candidate for governor - used his victory speech in the state primary to pledge that he will legalize marijuana statewide if elected on November 7.
“The criminalization of marijuana has only served to clog our courts and cloud people’s futures, so we will legalize marijuana,” Murphy said. “And while there are financial benefits, this is overwhelmingly about doing what is right and just.”
Murphy also pledged to overhaul the Garden State's prison system. "We will reform our criminal justice system, end mass incarceration and eliminate prisons for profit."
If Murphy follows through with his promises, New Jersey would become the 9th state to legalize cannabis.
But first, he has to defeat Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, the Republican candidate. Guadagno opposes cannabis legalization because she doesn't want to run afoul of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who is very much anti-legalization.
However, she does support decriminalizing cannabis so that people "don't go to jail for small quantities." Right now, people in New Jersey face hard time for cannabis offences - including mandatory minimum sentences of 3 years behind bars for selling an ounce of cannabis or growing 1-9 plants.
So either way, cannabis laws in the Garden State will become more progressive after the Reefer Madness regime of Governor Chris Christie (R). Over his two terms as governor, Christie has called cannabis poison, and he has referred to tax revenues on state-legalized recreational marijuana as blood money. But now it looks like his prohibition legacy will be short-lived.
And that's good news for the other 32 states under prohibition. If New Jersey can switch from being backward to progressive on cannabis that fast, then there's hope for the rest of the country.
Banner image: facebook.com/PhilMurphyNJ