On Tuesday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy (D) said cannabis-derived tax revenues will be included on the state's 2020 budget. That means marijuana could be legal in New Jersey by the end of this year.
The New Jersey budget for 2020 includes an estimated $60 million in tax revenues generated by an upcoming market for cannabis. During his budget address on Tuesday, Murphy called the legalization of recreational cannabis "an unfinished item from last year's to do list." And while legislators are "not across the finish line yet, we are closer than ever before" to legalizing.
"Most importantly, this is the right step for eliminating decades-old and persistent racial and social inequities," Governor Murphy added. "But it is also our chance to create an entirely new state-based industry with the potential to create thousands of good-paying jobs, expand opportunities for minority business owners and jumpstart billions of dollars in new economic activity."
While those words sound encouraging, there's reason to be wary of Murphy's optimism. Last year, the governor made a similar announcement and included $80 million in cannabis tax revenues on the state's 2019 budget, but marijuana legalization didn't materialize. That said, there is some indication that a legalization bill is nearly ready to hit the floor of the state Senate.
"Let's commit to completing this effort, together," Murphy told lawmakers in his address.
A budget brief indicated that tax revenues generated by legal cannabis sales will be directed towards "new, annually recurring revenues to support crucial investments in the State." No specific programs or initiatives were listed however.
Murphy also stated that he "will only sign [a cannabis legalization bill] if it expunges the records of those who have been put through our criminal justice system for prior marijuana offenses."
Earlier this month Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) had also announced that cannabis taxes would be included in New York's 2020 budget. Both states seem strongly positioned to legalize recreational cannabis for adult use sometime this year. Legalizing recreational cannabis in New Jersey held a central place in Murphy's gubernatorial platform and is certainly something that many of his supporters want to see happen sooner rather than later.
h/t Marijuana Moment