TRENTON, N.J. (CBS/AP) – Legislation to set up a recreational marijuana marketplace, decriminalize cannabis and loosen penalties for underage possession of the drug and alcohol was signed into law Monday by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, more than three months after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question to legalize adult use of the drug. The Democrat-led Assembly and Senate passed the last-minute measure Monday to ease penalties on underage possession of both alcohol and marijuana as a way to secure Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s signature on legislation they had sent him in December.
New Jersey’s broken & indefensible marijuana laws are no more.READ MORE: Mass COVID-19 Vaccination Center Opens Thursday In Philadelphia's Juniata Park
Today, I signed historic legislation to:
✅Legalize adult-use cannabis
✅Decriminalize marijuana possession in small amounts
✅Limit the use of previous marijuana convictions
✅Create a regulated cannabis marketplace pic.twitter.com/Y2pCKSgcn5
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) February 22, 2021
Murphy faced a deadline to act on the December measures.
This was a historic moment in New Jersey as Murphy signed three bills to legalize recreational marijuana. The move comes after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question giving adult use of the drug the green light.
“I’m not considered a criminal anymore,” Florentino Parra said.
It took longer than expected but Murphy signed three bills into law Monday that legalize and decriminalize marijuana in the Garden State, something millions of New Jerseyans voted in favor of back in November.
“I think the soonest — whether it’s going to be in early 2022 — the soonest I think New Jersey residents are going to get it is via delivery services someway,” said Chris Goldstein, the regional organizer of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.READ MORE: Flames Badly Damage Parkway Inn In Delaware County
The cleanup bill is what held up the legalization of marijuana.
Anyone caught with less than six ounces of marijuana will not be arrested, but if you are under the age of 21, police can confiscate your weed.
“All of these records can be expunged, and that’s a big deal not only for New Jersey but the whole region,” Goldstein said. “Because again, those marijuana arrests, those 30,000 marijuana arrests that were happening weren’t just New Jersey residents, they were Pennsylvania, New York, Delaware residents as well.”
That’s good news for people who have a record for being in possession of marijuana like Parra, who travels all the way from Freehold to purchase his medical marijuana at Curaleaf in Bellmawr.
“It’s been a long time coming. Like people can go get a drink, I don’t know why people can’t go have a smoke whenever they want to, as long as they’re responsible about it,” Parra said.
Home cultivation was not a part of the bills signed into law. So Mary Jane isn’t something residents will be allowed to grow in their homes in the Garden State.
You won’t be able to head into a recreational marijuana facility until the Cannabis Regulatory Commission is formally established and that’ll most likely take a year.
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CBS3’s Kimberly Davis contributed to this report.