Could Legal Recreational Marijuana Use be On the Horizon?

By Patricia Ressell-Deras
Staff Writer

One of Governor Phil Murphy’s campaign promises was the legalization of recreational marijuana use. Since coming into office last year, Murphy has been pushing to make his promise a reality.

On March 25, New Jersey was supposed to have voted on a bill that would have made recreational marijuana use legal. However, hours before the vote was to be cast, government officials cancelled the vote. As a result, the bill did not make it to the floor of New Jersey chambers.

According to The New York Times, the vote was cancelled due to Democrats not being able to “muster enough support” for the bill. Rather than risking a veto, Gov. Murphy and supporting officials decided to move the voting date.

As of now, a new voting date for legalization has yet to be announced. Gov. Murphy has made it his mission to achieve some sort of progress by the end of May, whether it be as a new legalization bill or an extension on the current medical marijuana laws.

But the question remains, should marijuana be legalized in New Jersey?

Marijuana, also known as weed, cannabis, etc., has been around since before the early colonial times. According to PBS, many founding fathers actually owned hemp farms, and indirectly, marijuana. Marijuana has been part of American culture for a very long time.

So why the bans? And why now the push for legalization?

The bans and restrictions on marijuana can be traced all the way back to 1937, due to politics at that time. In order for the government to control the people, laws regarding marijuana use were put in place. Marijuana possession laws kept getting stricter and stricter through the years, until finally all possession and uses of marijuana were banned under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

Since the Act was passed, people have been trying to get it rescinded. Through many decades of protest, and much invested time and data, medical marijuana is once again being considered legal for certain medical issues.

However, that is just about medical marijuana use. What about recreational marijuana use?

It was not until 2012, over 40 years since the Controlled Substances Act, that states decided to once again adopt the policy of legal recreational marijuana use. Colorado and Washington became the first two states to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Since then, more states have chosen to legalize marijuana. As of today, ten states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational use.

The potential job oppurtunites once recreational marijuana is legalized are endless. According to Forbes, “thousands of jobs are created and millions of dollars are produced” in a legal marijuana market.

Forbes also predicts that by 2027, consumers will spend $57 billion on the legal cannabis industry worldwide. With that potential revenue and job opportunities, it is no wonder why Gov. Murphy is pushing New Jersey legislatures to legalize recreational marijuana use.

Only the next two months can tell whether government officials will finally bow to this new bill or continue to oppose it.

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Graphic by Cindy MJ Kim