The governor of the U.S. state of New Jersey, Phil Murphy, signed three laws Monday that effectively approve the recreational use of marijuana in the region for those 21 and older, more than 3 months after citizens voted overwhelmingly in favor of a constitutional amendment to do so in last November 3 elections.
“As of this moment, New Jersey’s broken and indefensible marijuana laws, which tarnished many residents’ records and ruined their futures, and which disproportionately harmed communities of color and failed to do justice on any level, are no more,” Murphy said Monday shortly before the signing.
The legislation, which allows possession of up to 170 grams of marijuana, has passed after months of debate among lawmakers over taxes, sales licenses and what fines would be imposed on those under 21 who consume the substance.
The New Jersey Senate has finally decided that arrests and fines for young users will be replaced with verbal warnings and drug education programs.
“I really believe this process has resulted in laws that will serve as a national model,” said Murphy, who admitted that it has taken longer than he would have liked to pass recreational cannabis use.
The approval of the recreational use of marijuana, however, comes as medical cannabis dispensaries have yet to meet demand in the state, so sales to the general public will not begin until production is sufficiently increased.
As a result, marijuana is not expected to be sold for recreational purposes in New Jersey until the end of this year, experts told local media, although decriminalization of consumption goes into effect immediately.
“Beginning immediately, those who have been arrested for possession of small amounts of marijuana (…) will be able to be released and go on with their lives,” Murphy added.