Holds office Governor
Gov. Phil Murphy signed an executive order this past January calling on regulators to review the state's eight-year-old medical cannabis access program and to recommend ways to increase participation from patients and physicians. "Our goal is to modernize the program in New Jersey, bring it up to current standards, and put patients first," he said (1/23/18)
In July 2018, the Murphy administration opened up the application process to six new dispensary applicants -- raising the total number of dispensaries to twelve. (Link)
"From day one, my administration has worked with our partners in the Legislature to advance social justice on behalf of the communities disproportionately impacted by marijuana prohibition by working to expunge cannabis-related convictions, decriminalize possession, and establish an equitable cannabis industry," said Governor Phil Murphy. "The first sale of legal, adult-use cannabis today marks a historic moment for New Jersey, as we leave behind the indefensible practices that led to the incarceration of countless people of color and embrace the opportunities of a fair, regulated adult-use market. It is a moment that required long hours of work to make sure we got it right the first time, and I am proud of our efforts to get to this point. With today's launch, my administration will continue working to grow a cannabis industry that reflects the diversity of our state, protects access for medical marijuana patients, prioritizes justice, and promotes equal opportunities for communities of color." (4/21/22)
"Our current marijuana prohibition laws have failed every test of social justice, which is why for years I've strongly supported the legalization of adult-use cannabis. Maintaining a status quo that allows tens of thousands, disproportionately people of color, to be arrested in New Jersey each year for low-level drug offenses is unjust and indefensible," said Governor Murphy. "This November, New Jerseyans voted overwhelmingly in support of creating a well-regulated adult-use cannabis market. Although this process has taken longer than anticipated, I believe it is ending in the right place and will ultimately serve as a national model." (2/22/21)
Legislation to enact legalization stalled in the Senate in 2019. Nonetheless, Gov. Murphy continues to be a vocal proponent of adult-use marijuana legalization. Voters will decide on the issue this November.
“It’s hard to do it [adult-use legalization] legislatively, I admit. It’s always been a default to go to a referendum and ask the people.” (Link)
We must also make sure we are investing not just in individuals, but also in entire communities - particularly our long-overlooked urban neighborhoods. We must recommit to opening the doors to economic opportunity for the thousands of young men and women - especially young men and women of color - jailed for non-violent drug-related offenses. Our current system has failed them, and put a mark on them that they will carry for their entire lives, preventing them from furthering their educations or getting jobs.
It's the principal reason I advocate for legalizing adult-use marijuana. According to research, New Jersey spends upwards of $140 million per year adjudicating low-level marijuana possession offenses. And, marijuana-related arrest rates are tilted three-to-one against African-Americans, even though rates of marijuana use are similar among races.
These resources must have a better use, whether to tackle the trafficking of illegal guns, provide stronger community policing, or to crack the back of our opioid epidemic, which was devastating our urban centers long before it made headlines.
I greatly respect those in this chamber who have proposed decriminalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana, and I thank them for recognizing the importance of doing what's right and just for those who carry criminal records for past possession arrests. But decriminalization alone will not put the corner dealer out of business, it will not help us protect our kids, and it will not end the racial disparities we see.
If these are our goals - as they must be - then the only sensible option is the careful legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana sales to adults.
Legalization will allow us to reinvest directly in our communities - especially the urban neighborhoods hardest hit by the misguided War on Drugs - in their economic development, in health care and housing, child care and after-school programs, and other critical areas. These investments will pay dividends far greater than the cost of mass incarceration.
I did not come to this overnight, myself. After all, we are the parents of four children under the age of 21. But from the standpoint of social justice, and from the standpoint of protecting our kids and lifting up our communities, I could not arrive at any other conclusion.
- 2019 Budget Address
Post Office Box 001
Trenton, NJ 08625