Garden State voters will decide on the issue of legalization when they go to the polls in November. The new group, NJ CAN 2020, has been set up to educate people on the manifold benefits that a legal adult-use cannabis industry would bring to the state.
It includes the ACLU of New Jersey, Doctors for Cannabis Regulation, Latino Action Network, American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp, Law Enforcement Action Partnership, and the NAACP New Jersey State Conference. The NJ CannaBusiness Association, political strategists, and faith community leaders have also joined those groups in the coalition.
The group said it would have a simple mission: to build an inclusive, diverse, robust campaign leading to a “yes” vote to the 2020 ballot question on legalizing cannabis.
New Jersey lawmakers have tried unsuccessfully to legalize recreational cannabis for many years. Efforts fell short in the Senate last year.
Gov. Phil Murphy made legalizing adult-use marijuana by 2021 a key campaign promise, but he has been thwarted. Senate President Steve Sweeney said he made concerted efforts to gain the requisite support, but he acknowledged that the votes just are not there.
Instead lawmakers voted to put the matter to the people in a statewide referendum as part of the November 2020 ballot. Eleven states have legalized recreational cannabis use, and the majority have done so via a referendum.
Sweeney believes voter turnout will be maximized this year due to the presidential election, so it is the perfect time to put the matter to residents. A Monmouth University poll conducted last year suggested that 62% of New Jersey voters favour cannabis legalization, compared to 32% that oppose it and 6% that are unsure.
New Jersey legalized medical cannabis in 2010, but it remained low-key due the small number of doctors willing to recommend patients along with resistance from Gov. Chris Christie, Murphy’s predecessor. In 2017, the number of qualifying conditions was significantly increased, and then last summer the state approved a plan for 54 new dispensaries, 24 cultivation facilities, and 30 manufacturing hubs.
Today, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled that medical marijuana patients cannot be fired for failing a drug test. It followed a complaint from a man that was fired from a job at a funeral home for using medical marijuana while off the clock.
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