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New Jersey Governor Congratulates Other States That Also Legalized Marijuana On Tuesday

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Fresh off a resounding victory in his own state for a marijuana legalization referendum that he campaigned heavily for, New Jersey’s governor is taking time to congratulate other states that also voted to end cannabis prohibition on Tuesday.

“Congrats to Arizona for voting #Yeson207 to safely and responsibly legalize adult-use marijuana,” Gov. Phil Murphy (D) tweeted on Wednesday morning. “This move will help fund critical priorities like education and infrastructure while allowing police officers to focus their time and energy on real crimes.”

He also praised the decision of Montana voters to legalize cannabis, saying it will “will help create jobs, generate new revenue, and allow law enforcement to devote resources to serious crimes.”

In South Dakota, a recreational marijuana legalization ballot measure that voters approved will “free up law enforcement resources, create jobs, and stimulate the economy,”  Murphy said.

South Dakota voters also approved a separate medical cannabis ballot initiative on Tuesday.

Unlike Murphy, who ran on the issue of marijuana legalization during his own election campaign in 2017, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey (R) and South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem (R) actively—and unsuccessfully—tried to convince the voters of their states to shoot down the cannabis measures on their ballots this year.

Noem, who previously vetoed a hemp bill, appeared in a video ad urging constituents to reject marijuana reform, stating that it’s “not good for our kids” and won’t “improve our communities.”

“The fact is, I’ve never met someone who got smarter from smoking pot,” she said.

Ducey, for his part, released an official voter guide argument against his state’s marijuana initiative.

In contrast, Murphy appeared in campaign ads, did numerous interviews and sent email blasts to make sure his constituents knew about the cannabis legalization referendum in the Garden State.

Before polls closed on Tuesday, the governor said he was “highly confident” that voters would sign off on the measure.

“God willing, it’ll pass,” he said. “We’ll then work with the legislature to get that up and running.”

In an interview days before the election, he told Yahoo Finance that legalization “would be a revenue-generator,” adding that he thinks “at first it would be modest, but ultimately will grow, I think, into several hundred million dollars in the state budget.”

“Along with social justice,” he said, “that’s a pretty good, winning combination.”

The governor also recorded a video that was released by the NJ CAN 2020 campaign last month, outlining why he’s embraced the policy change. Murphy said that the ongoing criminalization of cannabis in New Jersey wastes taxpayer dollars, and he emphasized that prohibition is enforced in a racially disproportionate manner.

The governor similarly said in an interview that the marijuana reform proposal prioritizes social justice.

“I wish we could have gotten it done through a legislative process,” he said at the time, referencing lawmakers’ inability to advance a legalization bill last session. “We just couldn’t find the last few votes, so it’s on the referendum. I’m strongly supporting it—first and foremost for social justice reasons.”

Murphy also called on voters to support the proposal in an email blast that was circulated by the New Jersey Democratic State Committee.

He said in July that legalizing cannabis is “an incredibly smart thing to do” both from an economic and social justice perspective.

New Jersey lawmakers are now charged with passing enabling legislation to implement voters’ decision to legalize cannabis. A key lawmaker said a bill could be filed as soon as Thursday.

Live Marijuana Election Results

Photo courtesy of Phil Murphy.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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