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Marijuana group says legalization question has been approved by N.J. voters

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An organization that advocates for the legalization of marijuana is asserting New Jersey voters approved a public question in the Nov. 3 election which calls for amending the state constitution to accommodate the adult use possession, production and sale of marijuana to individuals age 21 or older.

“Adult use” marijuana is also referred to as “recreational use” marijuana.

In a press release issued shortly after polls closed on Nov. 3, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) said Garden State voters had passed the question.

The result of the election is not official, as additional mail-in ballots and provisional ballots remain to be counted. The result will not be official until it is certified and at this time it is not known when certification will occur.

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri was quoted in the press release as saying, “Garden State voters spoke resoundingly. They are demanding their lawmakers end the failed policy of marijuana criminalization and instead pursue a more sensible path of regulation and legalization.

“Law enforcement in New Jersey arrests more citizens each year for minor marijuana violations than almost any other state in the nation.

“By moving to end this fiscally wasteful and morally repugnant policy, state officials will now be able to prioritize law enforcement resources toward combating more serious criminal activities, better respect the personal freedom and civil liberties of their citizens, end the racist application of marijuana prohibition laws against communities of color, and direct new tax revenues toward important social programs such as education and infrastructure development,” Altieri said.

Carly Wolf, NORML’s state policies coordinator, said, “Because the public question is a non-binding, legislatively referred ballot question, the New Jersey Legislature must now take immediate action to draft and implement enabling legislation in a manner that is in accordance with voters’ sentiments.

“Their first priority should be bringing about an end to the tens of thousands of low-level marijuana possession arrests that occur each year in New Jersey. Once this is accomplished, they should then expeditiously move forward to meet voters’ second demand, which is to initiate regulations to license and oversee the commercial cannabis market in New Jersey,” Wolf said.

In response to the apparent passage of the public question, State Sen. Nick Scutari (D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union) said, “What began as a mission to bring reform to our criminal justice system and progress to New Jersey has finally become an inescapable reality for my colleagues in the Legislature.

“Credit is due entirely to voters in this state who, after weighing the apprehension expressed by some politicians, courageously declared our society is ready for a regulated and safe cannabis industry in New Jersey.

“As the prime sponsor of this legislation, it has been my honor to shepherd this effort through several administrations of five governors over 17 years.

“Along with Gov. Phil Murphy, Senate President Stephen Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, I am ready to work with every member of the Legislature to take the necessary steps to realize the will of the people that was so overwhelmingly expressed on Nov. 3. This is a win for our communities of color, for fairness and for common sense,” Scutari said.

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