One of the more complex issues confronting the latest wave of states looking to legalize cannabis, including New Jersey, is how to incorporate social justice efforts into legalization legislation. To date, 33 states have implemented medical cannabis programs and 10 states have legalized cannabis for recreational use. That number will soon rise to 11, as Illinois just became the first state where the legislature passed a bill legalizing both the possession and sale of cannabis, a designation most believed would go to New Jersey or New York.

According to some analysts, the total U.S. cannabis market would be valued at about $28 billion (or more) if it were legalized today. For some, maybe most, this market potential alone is enough to justify legalizing cannabis, not just in New Jersey but throughout the country. For others, however, the undeniable financial benefits of legalizing cannabis, including the business opportunities and potential tax revenues, are not enough to convince them legalization is in the public interest, particularly in the current climate where social justice reform is claiming a lot of attention in the public discourse.