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New Jersey lawmakers postponed a critical vote to legalize marijuana — here are all the states where pot is legal

New Jersey lawmakers postponed a critical vote to legalize marijuana — here are all the states where pot is legal
Skye Gould/Business Insider

  • New Jersey lawmakers on Monday postponed a vote to legalize marijuana.
  • Democratic Governor Phil Murphy couldn't marshal enough support for the bill in the state's 40-member Senate.
  • Despite the bill's failure in New Jersey, marijuana legalization initiatives swept the US last year.
  • Recreational marijuana is now legal in 10 states; medical marijuana is legal in 33.

New Jersey lawmakers on Monday postponed a vote to legalize marijuana, despite support from the state's governor, legislative leaders, and 60% of residents (according to recent polls).

The bill, which would have legalized the use and sale of marijuana for adults over the age of 21 and expunged the criminal records of New Jersey residents convicted of possessing marijuana, was a centerpiece of Democratic Governor Phil Murphy's campaign.

Despite the support, New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney pulled the vote at the last minute, as Murphy could not marshal enough votes to get majority support in the state's 40 member Senate.

"Certainly, I'm disappointed, but we are not defeated," said Murphy, per The New York Times. "Justice may be delayed, but justice will not be denied."

The bill's failure may not portend well for New York, where some lawmakers have said they will block any marijuana legalization bill that doesn't provide a pathway for minority entrepreneurs to share the new industry's profits.

Read more: One of the largest publicly traded marijuana companies says the Farm Bill provides a 'pathway' for entering the lucrative US market

It's not yet clear when Murphy will hold a new vote to legalize marijuana. It's possible that the state's legislature will revisit the issue before the June 30 deadline for the next state budget, reports

Despite the bill's failure in New Jersey, marijuana legalization expanded throughout the US and the world last year.

President Donald Trump signed the bipartisan Farm Bill into law in December of last year, which legalized hemp - a plant that's roughly identical to marijuana but doesn't contain THC, a psychoactive compound in marijuana - nationwide.

Hemp is also a source of CBD, or cannabidiol, a popular, if scientifically untested ingredient in many cannabis-infused products.

In last year's midterm elections, Michigan became the 10th state to legalize recreational marijuana, and Utah and Missouri voted to legalize medical marijuana.

Deep-red Oklahoma also voted to legalize medical marijuana last year, joining numerous other states that have such laws on the books.

Read more: The top 12 venture-capital firms making deals in the booming cannabis industry that's set to skyrocket to $75 billion

Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through its Legislature last year as well, rather than a ballot initiative when the governor signed the bill into law.

Ten states and Washington, DC, have now legalized marijuana for recreational use for adults over 21. And 33 states have legalized medical marijuana.

Marijuana prohibition began 80 years ago when the federal government banned the sale, cultivation, and use of the cannabis plant. It remains illegal at the federal level.

Overturning prohibition is one of the few hot-button topics with widespread support.

A recent poll by the Pew Research Center found that 62% of Americans, including 74% of millennials, said they supported legalizing marijuana.

Last year was also a banner year for marijuana legalization globally.

Last, October Canada legalized marijuana federally, becoming the first G7 country to do so.

Mexico's Supreme Court also ruled that marijuana prohibition is unconstitutional, paving the way for the country's new leader, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, to follow Canada's lead.

Melia Robinson contributed to an earlier version of this post.


a marijuana sample is set aside for evaluation at Cannalysis, a cannabis testing laboratory, in Santa Ana, California. AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Adults 21 and over can light up in Alaska. In early 2015, the northernmost US state made it legal for residents to use, possess, and transport up to an ounce of marijuana- roughly a sandwich bag full - for recreational use. The first pot shop opened for business in late 2016.

Alaska has pounced on the opportunity to make its recreational pot shops a destination for tourists. More than two million people visit Alaska annually and spend $2 billion.


A woman holds marijuana for sale at the MedMen store in West Hollywood, California U.S. January 2, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson

California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana back in 1996. California became even more pot-friendly in 2016 when it made it legal to use and carry up to an ounce of marijuana.

The law also permits adults 21 and over to buy up to eight grams of marijuana concentrates, which are found in edibles, and grow no more than six marijuana plants per household.

Getting Californians to buy legal weed - rather than from the black market - has been challenging since the law took effect, The New York Times reports.


In this Sept. 25, 2018 photo, a worker holds a marijuana plant leaf in a massive tomato greenhouse being renovated to grow pot in Delta, British Columbia. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

In Colorado, there are more marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks and McDonalds locations combined. The state joined Washington in becoming the first two states to fully legalize the drug in 2012.

Residents and tourists over the age of 21 can buy up to one ounce of marijuana or eight grams of concentrates. Some Colorado counties and cities have passed more restrictive laws.


Employees sort through harvested cannabis plants at Hexo Corp's facilities in Gatineau, Quebec, Canada, September 26, 2018. REUTERS/Chris Wattie

A ballot initiative in 2016 gave Mainers the right to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, more than double the limit in most other states.

Maine's legislature is still ironing out the details of how, and when, recreational pot shops will open in the state.


Unfinished pre-rolls, medicinal cannabis cigarettes, rest in container at left, Thursday, July 12, 2018, at Sira Naturals medical marijuana cultivation facility, in Milford, Mass. AP Photo/Steven Senne

In 2016, Massachusetts gave residents the green light to carry and use an ounce of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants in their homes.

The first pot shops opened in the state last year, with more to come in 2019, reports The Boston Globe.


An attendant weighs marijuana at the Far West Holistic Center dispensary, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018, in Detroit AP Photo/Carlos Osorio

Voters in Michigan passed Proposition 1 last year, making it the first state in the Midwest to legalize the possession and sale of marijuana for adults over the age of 21. The bill allows adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and allows residents to grow up to 12 plants at home.

The law is more permissive than other states with legal marijuana: Most allow residents to only possess up to an ounce at a time.


People by marijuana products at the Essence cannabis dispensary, Saturday, July 1, 2017, in Las Vegas. Nevada dispensaries were legally allowed to sell recreational marijuana starting at 12:01 a.m. Saturday. John Locher/AP

Residents and tourists who are 21 and over can buy an ounce of marijuana or one-eighth of an ounce of edibles or concentrates in Nevada - while supplies last. Less than two weeks after sales of recreational weed began on July 1, 2017, many stores ran out of marijuana to sell.

The state has earned nearly $20 million in marijuana tax revenuesince the market launched.

There's bad news if you want to grow your own bud, though. Nevada residents must live 25 miles outside the nearest dispensary in order to be eligible for a grower's license.


Marijuana-based products are displayed at the "Oregon's Finest" medical marijuana dispensary in Portland, Oregon April 8, 2014. Anthony Bolante/Reuters

Oregonians have enjoyed the right to carry an ounce of weed and grow up to four plants at home since 2015.

Sales in Oregon pot shops have exploded since legalization: they're expected to top $1 billion by 2020, reports The Portland Business Journal.


An employee cuts cannabis plants in a laboratory at the headquarters of AGES agency in Vienna, Austria March 15, 2018. REUTERS/Leonhard Foeger

Vermont became the first state to legalize marijuana through the legislature, rather than a ballot initiative, when Republic Governor Phil Scott signed a bill into law in January of last year.

Adults in the Green Mountain State will be able to carry up to an ounce of marijuana and grow no more than two plants for recreational use. The new law goes into effect in July. But the bill is limited in scope. It doesn't establish a legal market for production and sale of the drug.


An employee checks cannabis plants at a medical marijuana plantation in northern Israel March 21, 2017 REUTERS/Nir Elias

Dispensaries in Washington have raked in over $1 billion in non-medical marijuana sales since the drug was legalized for recreational use in 2012.

The state allows people to carry up to an ounce of marijuana, but they must require the drug for medicinal purposes in order to be eligible for a grower's license.

Washington D.C.

Washington D.C.

Residents in the nation's capital voted overwhelmingly to legalize marijuana for adult use in November 2014.

The bill took effect in 2015, allowing people to possess two ounces or less of marijuana and "gift" up to an ounce, if neither money nor goods or services are exchanged.

New York, New Jersey, and Illinois may be next

New York, New Jersey, and Illinois may be next
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York Mayor Bill De Blasio (L). Kevin Hagen/AP

Since Massachusetts opened its first pot shops in November, states around the Northeast are hopping aboard the green train.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo made legalizing marijuana a top priority for the first hundred days of his third term as governor.

And New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy hasn't given up on legalization, telling reporters "justice may be delayed, but justice will not be denied," following Monday's postponed vote.

Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker campaigned heavily on legalizing marijuana - so expect movement from Illinois as well.

While the federal government under President Trump is no friend to marijuana reform laws, it's likely that we'll see action from Congress - with a Democrat-controlled House - easing tax burdens and banking restrictions on marijuana businesses, and expanding access to medical marijuana.

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