Here’s How New Jersey Can Legalize Marijuana

Here's How New Jersey Can Legalize Marijuana
Nico Escondido/High Times

New Jersey can legalize marijuana with their pick for governor next month. Democrat Phil Murphy is running against Republican Kim Guadagno to be Chris Christie’s successor. The former is in favor of legalizing cannabis, while the latter is completely against legalization. Their last debate was intense with all of the name-calling and interruptions we’ve come to expect after the last presidential election.

New Jersey can either see change or get more of the same close-minded approaches to legalized cannabis.

Phil Murphy for Governor and Legalized Weed

New Jersey can legalize marijuana sooner than later by voting for Phil Murphy to be its governor.

Phil Murphy has been fighting for legal cannabis in New Jersey since Chris Christie was calling it “beyond stupidity.”

In fact, the current governor once warned that people like Phil Murphy would poison the state with legalized cannabis. Murphy has argued that legalizing marijuana will solve social justice issues plaguing the state.

The Democratic candidate says that New Jersey has the highest gap in conviction rates for African-Americans when compared to whites for cannabis-related offenses in the whole nation.

“That is the reason we want to legalize marijuana—not because we can make money off of it. That’s the last reason,” Murphy said during a debate with Guadagno last week.

Even though he stresses that money is not one of the leading reasons he is pushing for legalization, he points to the fact that potential tax revenue is being left to street dealers.

Another argument the Democratic candidate uses is the potential to curb the opioid crisis burdening the state. Murphy mentions studies that found opioid overdoses are decreasing in states with recreational marijuana laws. Cannabis works as a pain reliever for many debilitating conditions.

Murphy is being financially backed by New Jersey marijuana business associations like the NJCANNA PAC and Cannabusiness.

Kim Guadagno for Governor and Decriminalized Weed

Should Kim Guadagno become governor, New Jersey won’t be seeing legal cannabis anytime soon. She has been serving alongside Chris Christie as the state’s lieutenant governor.

In fact, Guadagno said that she is “wholly opposed to legalizing marijuana.” However, she added, “I do believe we can decriminalize it.”

So it’s still an improvement for cannabis consumers compared to Chris Christie. Furthermore, Guadagno says she would get rid of some of the Christie-era regulations limiting access to the state’s medical marijuana program.

“There is a less intrusive way to solve the social injustice problem than legalizing drug dealers,” Guadagno said at the debate.

Guadagno cited studies on driver fatalities increasing after dispensaries opened their doors as a reason not to legalize marijuana.

“In the first two years after the recreational use of marijuana became legal (2013 to 2014), the average yearly marijuana-related traffic deaths increased by another 41 percent,” according to

“I also would expand the medical marijuana program,” she promised. “It’s onerous, it’s hard to work with, it’s not available to those who it should be made available to.”

Final Hit: Here’s How New Jersey Can Legalize Marijuana

No matter who wins next month, it looks like, at least, medical cannabis will progress in New Jersey once Chris Christie is replaced. However, there’s a higher chance that New Jersey can legalize marijuana sooner with Murphy as governor.

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