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New Jersey Cannabis Vote Could Set Precedent for Surrounding States

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With New Jersey voters set to decide on the legalization of adult-use recreational cannabis this November, billions of dollars are riding on the new potential market. At a population pushing 9 million residents, projections from Marijuana Business Daily indicate that cannabis sales would reach between $850 million-$950 million by 2024. 

Should New Jersey voters move to legalize the measure, surrounding states such as New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Rhode Island are expected to follow suit: cultivating a market that totals approximately 37 million people in the area. 

Current Adult-use Cannabis Climate in New Jersey and the Northeast

As Massachusetts has already established a recreational marijuana market, with a similar adult-use market set to launch in Maine on October 9, there is already significant momentum in the region. 

Additionally, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has been strongly advocating in recent weeks for adult-use legalization in the state, despite pushback from republican lawmakers. Wolf, along with other governors across the region, hopes to mitigate the economic effects of the coronavirus pandemic as tax revenues continue to decrease in vital industries. 

If a state like New Jersey legalizes recreational cannabis, marijuana users from cities like Philadelphia are sure to be drawn across state lines to purchase the product in bordering cities such as Camden and Trenton, leading to a massive loss in revenue for the state of Pennsylvania. 

COVID-19 Has Stalled Regional Legalization Effort 

While New York and Connecticut Governors Andrew Cuomo and Ned Lamont, respectively, both pushed for legalization of cannabis in the spring, the onset of coronavirus forced the states to table the legislation. 

Although Cuomo and other governors, like Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, have indicated an intention to renew a push for adult-use legalization in their states, they lack significant details as to how the industry would be regulated. 

Recent polls have shown that anywhere from 60% to 70% of New Jersey voters are in favor of legalization, making the legislation likely to pass on the November ballot. How quickly other states will move to ensure that they don’t lose out on potential revenue within their own borders remains to be seen.

Contributed by Jack Berning

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