New Jersey voters will have their say on adult-use cannabis legalization in November 2020, on the general election ballot in a presidential year, after state lawmakers decided to kick the question their way. State senators voted 24-16 to make this move, and members of the state assembly voted 49-24 (with one abstention).
The question will be appear to voters as: "Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called ‘cannabis’? Only adults at least 21 years of age could use cannabis. The State commission created to oversee the State’s medical cannabis program would also oversee the new, personal use cannabis market. Cannabis products would be subject to the State sales tax. If authorized by the Legislature, a municipality may pass a local ordinance to charge a local tax on cannabis products."
This referendum comes after several unsuccessful attempts in recent years to legalize cannabis through the state legislature. In 2019, Senate President Steve Sweeney said he just couldn't get the votes in place to ensure a positive outcome on a legalization bill. As early as May, the focus began to shift toward a ballot measure.
Whether Gov. Phil Murphy stays involved in any regional coordination among his counterparts in New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania remains a bit unclear at the moment.
"Putting the issue to a referendum is both sensible and equitable. While not our preferred method of legislating, public questions allow voters to affirm or deny massive shifts in public policy," Assembly Speaker Craig Couglin said in a public statement. "The time to end the prohibition of adult-use cannabis is now. Along with enabling legislation yet to be worked out, New Jersey would become the next state to ensure a safe, highly regulated cannabis industry. The decision is now in the hands of the November 2020 electorate."