With new N.J. gov backing pot sales, push on to expedite legislative OK

A man rolls marijuana as a large group gathered near the New Jersey Statehouse to show their support for legalization Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Trenton, N.J. The event drew a diverse crowd of roughly 200 people. (Mel Evans/AP Photo)

A man rolls marijuana as a large group gathered near the New Jersey Statehouse to show their support for legalization Saturday, March 21, 2015, in Trenton, N.J. The event drew a diverse crowd of roughly 200 people. (Mel Evans/AP Photo)

Governor-elect Phil Murphy supports legalizing recreational marijuana use and sales in New Jersey, and other advocates are hoping lawmakers act on a bill to do that within a hundred days of Murphy’s inauguration.

But consumers won’t be able to purchase pot in the Garden State right away.

After legislation is enacted, it’ll take several months to develop regulations, license sellers, and grow the product, said Scott Rudder, president of New Jersey CannaBusiness Association.

“We really are looking at early 2019 on a very aggressive schedule,” Rudder said. “But, more than likely, mid-2019 is when we would see most of the retail sales coming on line.”

Ken Wolski with the Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey is recommending that the state look at other steps in the meantime.

“We would certainly like to see a decriminalization almost immediately,” he said. “So the arrests stop and so the harm that is done to our society by the current policy of prohibition stops.”

People will pay more to get marijuana without the fear of being arrested, Wolski said.

“When you legalize marijuana in New Jersey, you’re having marijuana available … that is government inspected. We know the source of it. We know that it’s not contaminated. We know its cannabinoid content,” he said. “And even though it may be cheaper at the black market, you’re getting a much better product that people do not have any legal repercussions for using.”

Advocates for legalization say the recreational pot industry would create tens of thousands of jobs and boost the state’s economy.

Gov. Chris Christie has called it “beyond stupidity” to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.  He likened taxes that could be collected on such sales as “blood money.”

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