New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy has set a goal of legalizing marijuana within the state by the end of 2018. However, with the state’s cities and townships holding their own vote and state legislators missing deadlines – currently up to four set deadlines that have passed without a proposed measure on the table – the state may be more opposed to legalization than Murphy will admit.
On Nov. 8, the state’s citizens went to the polls. While there, three cities allowed their citizens to vote on non-binding measures, which gave officials an idea of the local sentiment without requiring them to take the action the vote supported.
In Union Township and Vineland, more than half of the voters showed their support for legalization. Specifically, 54% of those in Union Township and 60% of voters in Vineland voted in support of marijuana legalization. The Union Township measure was in regard to permitting businesses to grow and sell marijuana in their locale, while in Vineland voters were supporting the idea of medical marijuana dispensaries.
A third town, Bridgeton, saw voters supporting the idea of a ban in the town, similar to those already enacted in 40 cities and townships throughout the state. Voters shot down the idea of allowing retail stores to sell marijuana, as well as the growth and distribution of marijuana within city boundaries. However, a measure on the ballot to allow these businesses in the industrial areas of Bridgeton did receive support.
Some marijuana advocates are concerned with the slow progress of legislation for the state. However, some supporters see the slow progress as a strong sign, meaning the legislators are putting in the necessary effort and maintaining a serious focus on handling the legislation the right way the first time.
Another deadline has been set, allowing New Jersey legislators to work towards finalizing a measure by the Monday after the Thanksgiving holiday. Only time will tell whether legalization will become a reality for the state or will continue its sluggish path, leaving a trail of missed deadlines in its wake.
The most recent version of the legislation raised concerns for those who didn’t see language regarding investment in the communities hit hardest by the drug war.