Feb 22, 2021 - Politics & Policy

New Jersey officially legalizes recreational marijuana

Phil Murphy.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. Photo: Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for William Hill Race & Sports Bar

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Monday signed three bills to legalize and regulate marijuana in the state, following years of failed attempts by the legislature.

Why it matters: The bills will enact a ballot question that voters overwhelmingly approved last year, allowing people older than 21 to legally carry up to six ounces of marijuana.

  • The bills also allow for the sale of marijuana at state-licensed dispensaries.
  • New Jersey is the 13th state to legalize recreational marijuana.

Murphy's signature comes after a standoff between him and the legislature, during which Murphy declined to sign the bills unless the body established penalties for people under 21 who are caught with marijuana.

  • The legislature ultimately did so with 20 minutes left for Murphy to sign two of the bills.

What he's saying: "Our current marijuana prohibition laws have failed every test of social justice, which is why for years I’ve strongly supported the legalization of adult-use cannabis," Murphy said.

  • "Maintaining a status quo that allows tens of thousands, disproportionately people of color, to be arrested in New Jersey each year for low-level drug offenses is unjust and indefensible."
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