New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) described marijuana legalization as an “incredibly smart” move to aid the state’s economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and make strides towards social justice.

The governor made the remarks in a radio interview on Jim Kerr Anytime, when one of the hosts suggested that legalizing cannabis could help generate new revenues in the face of a bleak economic outlook.

“As you probably know, I’ve been on that from day one. The legislature hasn’t been able to get there yet, but absolutely. That’s, to me, an incredibly smart thing to do,” Murphy said. “We’re not inventing marijuana. It exists.”

“It’s got a huge social justice piece for me. The overwhelming percentage of persons nailed in our criminal justice system are persons of color. It’s a no-brainer in that respect,” he said. “It’s a job creator, it’s a tax revenue raiser, it checks a lot of boxes. I hope we’ll get there sooner than later.”

Gov. Murphy begins discussing marijuana legalization from around 8:10 minutes into the show.

Murphy campaigned for the governor’s seat on a pro-legalization platform, but so far into his term the New Jersey legislature has failed to agree on a cannabis legalization bill. They did, however, give their approval for the question to be put to voters through a ballot measure this November.

Gov. Murphy responded to the setback in the legislature by signing a cannabis expungement bill into law and calling for marijuana decriminalization as a stop-gap measure until voters can have their say on full legalization. A recent poll found that a comfortable majority of registered New Jersey voters are expected to approve the measure. Until then, the New Jersey state Assembly passed a marijuana decriminalization bill last month which the Senate is expected to approve.

Phil Murphy isn’t the only governor who thinks a legal adult-use cannabis industry is crucial to a post-pandemic economic recovery. New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said such a move would help “rebuild” the state’s struggling economy. A few months ago, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took a different line though, back when the state was the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the US. Cuomo has pushed to legalized cannabis through his annual budget proposals for the past two years, but when asked about the prospect of doing so this legislative session he said there’s “too much [to deal with], too little time.

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