By Ben Barlyn
Only several months ago, full-scale legalization of marijuana in New Jersey seemed like a foregone conclusion.
Gov. Phil Murphy won handily over his opponent in no small part because of his enthusiastic support for recreational marijuana. Diverse news outlets pumped out story after breathless story envisioning a New Jersey awash with easily accessible, commercially produced cannabis (See: “Drive-Through Dispensaries Coming to Your Town?“).
Skepticism and concern expressed by a diverse array of legislators, public officials (former and current) and community leaders over the perceived negative impact of full-scale commercialized legalization has unquestionably slowed the momentum many observers, including myself, believed could not be derailed.
And while Murphy was able to fulfill a campaign promise to overhaul New Jersey’s disgracefully dysfunctional medicinal marijuana system this week, legalization is not on the same track.
Recently, former New Jersey State Police Superintendent Rick Fuentes painted a far-from-rosy portrait of Colorado’s experience with legalization. Granted, Fuentes brings a conventional law enforcement perspective to bear on the issue, and he overlooks the experiences of other states, including Washington and Oregon, that have also embraced full, commercialized adult-use legalization.