It seems like as the days go on, chances of decriminalization and even potential legalization of cannabis is looking more and more realistic in the United States. Following in the footsteps of numerous other states, New Jersey has become the latest to move forward with legalizing the substance for adult-use. After years of failed legislative attempts, Governor Phil Murphy signed three bills Monday that legalizes up to six ounces of recreational weed for adults. 

“As of this moment, New Jersey’s broken and indefensible marijuana laws, which permanently stained the records of many residents and short-circuited their futures, and which disproportionately hurt communities of color and failed the meaning of justice at every level, social or otherwise — are no more,” said Gov. Murphy during an afternoon briefing in Trenton before signing the bills into law.  

Murphy had promised to legalize weed in his first 100 days as governor three days ago and finally was able to see through on his promises this past November when residents voted to amend the state constitution and legalization recreational pot in the state. After the vote, however, the legislature spent months fighting over tax revenue, licensing rules, and potential penalties for people under 21 caught with the green. During this time, the state collected up to 2,000 charges for minor pot possession

On Monday morning (February 22), the New Jersey state Senate and Assembly held a last-minute vote that would replace potential arrests and fines for young pot smokers with verbal warnings and referrals to drug education or treatment centers instead. 

“This process may have had its fits and starts, but it is ending in the right place. And, I firmly believe, this process has ended in laws that will serve as a national model,” the gov said. The Cannabis Regulatory Commission currently has six months to crate rules and regulations before it can start accepting new licenses for recreational businesses. 

In the meantime, however, Jersey residents can light one up. “Starting immediately, those who had been subject to an arrest for petty marijuana possession — an arrest that may have kept them from a job or the opportunity to further their education — will be able to get relief and move forward,” Murphy said.