New Jersey and Arizona Legalize Marijuana
On Tuesday, voters in both New Jersey and Arizona legalize marijuana with strong support from on the ballot. They join the other 11 states and Washington D.C. who have already legalized marijuana.
The ballot vote passed 67.2% to 32.8% with strong turn out at the ballot. Under the change, only those 21 and older can legally buy and use cannabis.
Executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), Steve Hawkins, stated “This victory will have a rippling effect in the Northeast and increase the rising pressure in neighboring states to take action on cannabis legalization.”
It is uncertain when marijuana will be accessible because laws should first be passed in order to prepare the new cannabis industry. It’s estimated that recreational marijuana could bring New Jersey $210 million in additional revenue.
The change is expected to move relatively fast because the Democrat-led Legislature and Democratic Governor Phil Murphy, both support cannabis legalization.
Proposition 207 in Arizona will allow individuals 21 years of age and older have up to an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana or a smaller amount of ‘concentrates’ such as hashish. It also allows recreational marijuana sales at accredited retailers and will let people grow their own cannabis plants.
The Smart and Safe Arizona Act also will levy a 16% excise tax on marijuana over the normal sales tax which will go to state and local authorities. The new tax is estimated to bring in an additional $166 million annually. It will be used to fund police and fire departments, community colleges, public health and criminal justice initiatives and Arizona state transportation projects. The additional tax revenue combined with other state revenue opportunities, is estimated to bring in an additional $255 million in revenue.
The measure is backed by the legal cannabis industry and supporters argue it is time to rescind Arizona’s punitive penalties on cannabis, ensure high quality control through effective state testing and lower crime connected with marijuana smuggling and illegal sales.
When proposition 207 passes as election results are certified, marijuana will become officially legal in Arizona and retail sales could start as early as May.
Now that New Jersey and Arizona legalize marijuana, surrounding states will feel the pressure to follow suit if they haven’t already, to ensure they share in the increase tax and industry revenue and job grown. Federal cannabis legalization has been a hot topic in this years election and should continue to be so in 2021.