NEW JERSEY (CBS) — New Jersey voters took the first steps to legalize recreational marijuana. But several other legal wrinkles need to be smoothed out before it becomes available for sale in New Jersey.
So what’s next now that voters have given two thumbs up to recreational marijuana?
Marijuana advocates say this is a big win for New Jersey but it may take quite some time before you’re able to legally light up in the Garden State.
“It’s going to be a while before we can actually make the sales. It’s going to be a while before people start breaking into this really interesting burgeoning industry,” said Jay Lassiter with the Coalition for Medical Marijuana of New Jersey.
Though New Jersey said yes to recreational marijuana, there’s still steps lawmakers have to take before marijuana is actually legal.
“They’ve got to write some laws and they’ve got to set up some regulations and the track record of our lawmakers is not that great, so I’d be very surprised if there were legal sales happening before a year from now. In fact, I would guess probably closer to next Christmas,” Lassiter said.
Legislators will have to pass a bill that will outline regulations surrounding the legal weed industry. And not to be a buzzkill, but that’s not all.
Dispensaries will have to go through the licensing process and new marijuana farmers will have to come to add to the state’s supply.
“There’s been talk of recreational sales from medical dispensaries in New Jersey and anybody who’s ever dealt with New Jersey’s overburdened medical marijuana program knows that’s crazy talk. That’s a pipe dream, pun intended,” Lassiter said.
Along with the approval of the ballot question, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel for those who have suffered the consequences for low-level pot crimes.
“Decriminalizing so that individuals who have records can get back into the community and have a normal life, and provide for their families,” said Garden State NORML Executive Director Charlana McKeithen.
Currently, it is still illegal to smoke marijuana in New Jersey and you will still face criminal charges until the laws are passed.
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