New Jersey state lawmakers put the finishing touches on the state's marijuana legalization measure on Monday as New York officials continue to debate their own version of a bill to allow adults to buy retail cannabis.
The final passage of the New Jersey system, signed into law by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, marks the latest state bordering New York to sign off on a legalized cannabis system. It also comes as New York lawmakers in the coming weeks will determine whether to approve an adult-use marijuana provision in the state budget.
Advocates in New York used the approval of the New Jersey law to push passage in New York.
"Today, the New Jersey Legislature voted for — and Gov. Murphy signed — legislation to legalize marijuana for adult use, following a successful ballot question in November where voters overwhelmingly demonstrated their support for it," said Melissa Moore, the New York director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
"Now is the time to build on our neighbor's success, and pass the Marijuana Reform and Taxation Act (MRTA) right here in New York. Our state is on the cusp of becoming a national leader in the fight for true marijuana justice through strong social equity and community reinvestment provisions in the bill currently pending in the Legislature."
Both New Jersey's law and New York's proposal have taken vastly different paths. New Jersey voters signaled their support for the measure last fall in a ballot question, and lawmakers in Trenton approved a series of piecemeal measures that included a decriminalization measure.
In New York, the marijuana legalization package has stalled for several years now amid concerns raised by some Democrats over traffic safety and access to marijuana products for children.
Lawmakers in 2019 approved a measure meant to decriminalize marijuana laws in the state after the bigger legalization package fell short of support.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo this month announced amendments to his initial budget proposal that would allow for cannabis product deliveries as well as set new possession penalties.