Legal weed may help NJ’s budget, but it will take time – NJ Spotlight

Credit: (AP Photo/John Locher, File) File photo: A marijuana sale in Nevada

New Jersey’s economy has been bruised by the coronavirus pandemic, but last week’s vote to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults has the potential to provide some much-needed help.

However, before any new tax revenue from legal marijuana sales can begin flowing into the state’s coffers, lawmakers first have to draw up the regulations that will govern New Jersey’s cannabis market.

That tricky process began in earnest inside the State House on Monday.

WATCH: Some criticism for first draft of cannabis-enabling legislation

Industry experts are predicting the businesses that will eventually be cultivating, processing and then selling legalized marijuana products in New Jersey will create much-needed new jobs — and potentially in communities that have been hit hard by the nation’s long war on drugs.

But it will also take some time for the state to issue licenses to those businesses once the process of drafting the legal regulations is complete. That means it may be months or even longer before sales begin and before New Jersey begins to feel any economic effects from the landmark change in marijuana policy that was approved by voters last week by a 2-to-1 margin.

“I don’t think it’s going to be any time before the end of next year, realistically,” said Charles Messina, who co-chairs the cannabis industry group at the Newark-based Genova Burns law firm.

Unable to agree, lawmakers left it to voters

Lawmakers decided to go to voters this year to determine what to do on the issue of marijuana legalization after they failed to agree on it among themselves last year.

A proposed constitutional amendment seeking to make marijuana legal for adults age 21 and older starting on Jan. 1 won widespread approval from New Jersey voters last week. The

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