How New Jersey is Handling the Legalization of Marijuana


The State of New Jersey made up of marijuana in order to symbolize the legalization of the drug in the state.

On February 22, 2021, marijuana was legalized in the state of New Jersey. Governor Phil Murphy signed 3 bills into law to legalize the drug, but that does not mean that it is available to buy yet. Murphy promised he would legalize marijuana within his first 100 days in office. A little over a year ago, marijuana was legalized for 21 years and older only. 

The purpose of legalizing marijuana is to provide access for people who may have medical reasons, but there are still many regulations. You may only buy from someone with a dispensary license. Other restrictions include only smoking on private property and not in public. Adults may only buy up to one ounce of marijuana, and if you are found with 6 ounces of marijuana you can be arrested. If you are distributing or possessing over 6 ounces of marijuana you could also be fined $25,000. You might think the odor of marijuana could lead to you being arrested but that is false. If a police officer smells the odor of marijunana or suspects that someone is under the influence of marijuana, they do not have the justification to stop a vehicle. If they cannot definitively determine that the driver has been using marijuana, then there is no reason to continue or conduct a search.

Since last year, there has not been much improvement since cannabis was legalized. Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) is responsible for the regulations of buying and selling marijuana and also providing dispensary licenses. A dispensary license gives someone the ability to grow, sell, and buy cannabis. Applications for adult-dispensary licenses are not open yet in New Jersey, and without the license you cannot buy marijuana. Stated in, Why NJ May Not Start Legal Marijuana Sales On Time, the CRC will only allow 37 licenses this year but more in 2023. If you grow or process cannabis you are charged $10,000 with a $5,000 fee to apply for a dispensary license and $2,500 for a full cultivation or manufacturing license. The process of getting a license is being prolonged but New Jersey is working on getting more licenses and providing them to citizens. Despite the fact that marijuana has been legalized for over a year now, New Jersey has not been efficient at approving licenses, which is very essential in this process.

As of now, the number of marijuana dispensaries in New Jersey is 23, while Pennsylvania has 138. However, these dispensaries involve the distribution of medical marijuana. They are supposed to meet 3 main conditions: they need to have written municipal approval, show they have enough supply to provide for patients, and be able to have the capacity for a large number of customers. The process of opening more locations also needs to be approved by a commission in order to ensure that the access to and supply of marijuana is adequate for the patients. 

More broadly, the cannabis industry has grown since more states have legalized marijuana. Out of the 50 states, there are 18 states who have legalized marijuana. This has had a huge impact on the economy, with the cannabis industry increasing by 33 percent and providing 77,000 jobs. Some states are currently in the process of legalizing marijuana, but as more states legalize it the cannabis industry thrives and it influences other states. Obviously the state has much more work to be done in order for the legalization to be completely set in stone. But as of now, the future looks green for our Garden State.