A recent compromise between the governor and the senate president in New Jersey has cannabis legalization looking more and more like reality. As with most states, the process will take some time to play out: New Jersey’s Cannabis Regulatory Commission will have six months to issue regulations – essentially, the rule book for marijuana sales in the state – and then set a date within six months of the issuance of those rules for sales to begin. So a best-case scenario would have legal cannabis hitting the market in early 2020.
Oh, and the agreement also calls for a flat tax of $42 per ounce.
For us, the big question in the New Jersey story is this: will the Garden State be the domino that causes New York to topple as well?
New York currently allows medical marijuana, but via a very restrictive dispensary system and even more limited doctor participation, and neither smoking nor edibles are permitted. If all goes as expected, New Jersey would be the third bordering state to legalize cannabis (Vermont and Massachusetts being the others), so you would think New York legislators would be feeling some pressure.
To the west, Pennsylvania’s governor has softened his stance on recreational marijuana, and a new bill is circulating in the legislature there. And Maryland likewise appears poised to make the move from medicinal to recreational use, via either legislation or referendum.
Even more to the point than surrounding states, though, is the New York City metro area. With so much of New Jersey’s population essentially in bedroom communities to the Big Apple, and with nonstop population flow back and forth via countless bridges and tunnels, enforcement will become a logistical impossibility. The NYPD has already stopped arresting marijuana users in favor of writing tickets; the rest really seems inevitable.
So far, though, the only action in the Empire State has consisted of two medical marijuana bills under consideration: one would allow smoking, and the other would permit qualifying students to have cannabis administered at school. So stay tuned… we still believe the next big domino will fall.