After years of legislative failures, New Jersey voters on Tuesday authorized the legal use of recreational marijuana in a year when supporters rallied around the disproportionate number of arrests for the drug in minority communities.
The ballot question passed as expected, by a wide margin, according to preliminary results from The Associated Press.
The vote allows New Jersey officials to begin the thorny, potentially lengthy process of establishing rules related to regulating and testing cannabis and issuing licenses, including how many permits to grant — and to whom.
It also instantly raises the ante for neighboring states like New York and Pennsylvania, increasing pressure on lawmakers who support legalization to take action or risk losing the competitive edge to New Jersey in what is expected to be one of the largest marijuana markets in the country.
State Senator Liz Krueger of New York, the author of a legalization bill pending in Albany, said the “yes” vote could be the incentive Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and lawmakers need to break a yearslong logjam.
“I’m going to cheer on New Jersey,” said Ms. Krueger, a Democrat from Manhattan, “and hope that it helps us beat them to the punch.” [Read More @ The New York Times]