Associated Press: New Jersey Votes to Legalize Recreational Marijuana

By: Michael Mandarino, Follow South Jersey Managing Editor

TRENTON, N.J. — As part of the 2020 election, New Jersey residents have voted to legalize recreational marijuana, according to a call made by the Associated Press.

The potential legalization of recreational marijuana was offered as one of three public questions on the back of all ballots issued to New Jersey voters. At the time of publication, 1,581,871 New Jerseyans voted “yes” on Public Question No. 1 against 770,081 who voted “no,” according to the Associated Press. These figures represent a little more than 57% of the total vote.

Voting totals for Public Question No. 1 as of 9:52 p.m. on November 3. Screenshot: Associated Press

After tonight’s result, New Jersey is set to become the 12th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use, joining Nevada, Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, Michigan, Illinois, Massachusetts, Vermont, and Maine. Marijuana had previously been decriminalized in the state and legal to use medically.

Governor Phil Murphy has been a staunch advocate for legalization in his state. He’s frequently tweeted his support for legalization in the build-up to this year’s election, and one of his initial goals as Governor was to legalize marijuana within his first 100 days in office. Although Gov. Murphy didn’t accomplish legalization within 100 days, marijuana will soon be legal in his state.

Marijuana has been illegal at the federal level since the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937. However, this act was deemed to be unconstitutional in 1970 because it violated the Fifth Amendment’s self-incrimination rights. That bill was subsequently replaced by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which officially prohibited the ban of marijuana usage for any purpose. Since then, the overwhelming majority of states have decriminalized the drug and legalized it for medical use, but only 12 — including New Jersey — have fully legalized it now.

Studies on the drug have found zero deaths in which the primary cause is marijuana. Marijuana has been both criminalized by law and stigmatized among American people for decades, but more socially acceptable drugs like alcohol have been the primary cause of death in many people.

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