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Alexander Malyshev Alexander Malyshev

Despite its continued federal prohibition, marijuana legalization was one of the big winners of the 2020 legislative cycle. In the northeast, the biggest change was the Garden State’s legalization of adult-use cannabis (the more clinical sounding name for marijuana) through a voter-led constitutional amendment. Although all legalization efforts this cycle have had a social equity component, a major driver for state legislators has been the promise of revenue in the form of taxes. New Jersey has now put the pressure on neighboring states (like New York and Pennsylvania) to legalize or see that revenue go across the river.

As of the date of writing, it appears that the legislature and the Governor finally clinched a deal on legalization, with Sen. Liz Krueger’s legislation, S854, as the basis. This is expected to generate around $300 million a year in new revenue. The deal bypasses Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s third attempt at legalization through the executive budget process (which concentrated more power in the executive than the legislature led effort). But the Governor now appears to be on board with the legislature’s version of the law.

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