When the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, New Jersey and Montana will join the growing list of states where marijuana is legal for adult use — kind of. It may take a while until legal retail sales become a reality in either state, however. Voters in both states voted to end prohibition this past Election Day.
In New Jersey, a solid 67% of Garden State residents voted in favor of a constitutional amendment that legalizes marijuana possession for anyone over the age of 21, along with cannabis, processing, and retail sales.
While the constitutional amendment goes into effect on January 1, 2020, recreational sales may not actually be available in New Jersey until at least 2022, due to holdups in finalizing legislation meant to codify the measure, according to CBS. The new law regulating cannabis has been passed by the state legislature but the governor has yet to sign it.
State Sen. Nicholas Scutari, the bill’s primary sponsor, was quoted by the network as saying that the governor’s hesitation “has to do with the underage possession of marijuana and what the appropriate penalties for that should be.”
CBS also quoted a cannabis industry expert who estimated it could take six months to a year or so before the state finalizes all the regulations and people will be able to go into stores and legally buy cannabis in New Jersey.
“There’s no clear answer as to what will happen on Jan. 1 without marijuana reform laws,” explained NJ.com earlier this week, “but a lack of a law could lead to court challenges on arrests.”
Legalization arrives in Montana
In Montana, the legalization of marijuana for anyone over the age of 21 passed by a solid majority on Election Day,
Starting January 1, Montana residents will be allowed to legally grow up to four marijuana plants, and possess up to one ounce of flower or eight grams of concentrate.
That doesn’t mean that people in Wyoming and Idaho should storm the Montana border anytime soon though. Under the law, dispensaries can only apply for a marijuana business license beginning in October, and won’t be able to legally sell cannabis until January 2022, the Great Falls Tribune reported.
Already on January 1st though, people with misdemeanor marijauna possession convictions will be able to start the process of expunging their records.
Also, make sure to keep your bud out of sight. Even with the new legalization measure in place, in Montana you can still face a $50 fine for smoking marijuana in public and a $250 fine for growing marijuana that is visible to the general public.
Voters in five states approved cannabis legalization measures in 2020, and in both New Jersey and Montana, the measures passed by a resounding margin.