For two years, New Jersey lawmakers had failed to mobilize enough support to pass a bill to fully legalize marijuana. Instead, they agreed in December to put the question directly to voters: “Do you approve amending the Constitution to legalize a controlled form of marijuana called ‘cannabis’?”
Then March roared in, and the world turned upside down.
The coronavirus took a firm hold in the United States and Black Lives Matter protesters filled streets from coast to coast.
More than 16,000 New Jersey residents have since died from the virus. Unemployment has soared. Ballots for November’s election, which is being conducted almost entirely by mail, have already begun to arrive at voters’ homes.
And a dominant conversation in the nation now centers on race and policing, giving a core argument among supporters of legalization new potency in a state where Black residents are more than three times as likely as white residents to be charged with marijuana possession.
“The big thing that’s changed,” said Axel Owen, campaign manager for NJ Can 2020, a coalition that supports legalization, “is people are having a discussion about the role of policing.” [Read more at The New York Times]