In November, New Jersey voters elected Democrat Phil Murphy to take over as governor of the state. One of Murphy's campaign promises was to legalize recreational marijuana within his first 100 days in office. And it looks like that very well may happen.
With Murphy set to take office next week, New Jersey Assemblyman Reed Gusciora has unveiled a new marijuana legalization bill that he plans to introduce to the state legislature before the end of the month. It is actually the second marijuana legalization bill to be unveiled, as last week State Sen. Nicholas Scutari reintroduced a bill he originally proposed last May.
The two bills are similar in many ways. They both would allow people 21 or older to purchase marijuana and possess up to an ounce at a time. They also would create a state enforcement agency and allow people with cannabis convictions to get their records expunged.
But there are some differences. Gusciora's bill would allow people to grow up to six marijuana plants in their home, while Scutari's would not allow it. The other difference is Scutari's bill does not restrict the number of cannabis businesses, and simply requires that there is one dispensary in all 21 of New Jersey's counties. Gusciora's bill would cap the number of marijuana businesses at 80 for the entire state.
So neither bill is perfect, so there will likely be a compromise between them. But if the state legislatures manage to pass a bill within the next few weeks, there's a pretty good chance that the new laws would be implemented by the end of 2018. So there wouldn't necessarily be the long wait between legalization and implementation that we've seen in other states.
In the end, there may be a lot more people vacationing at the Jersey Shore in 2019.