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Legal Recreational Marijuana May Not Be Available In New Jersey In 2021 Due To Continued Legislation Delays

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- New Jersey residents voted through a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana, but finalizing legislation has been hit with delays.

The promise to officially legalize marijuana in 2021 may not happen. Gov. Phil Murphy is not satisfied with the decriminalization bill the Legislature sent him earlier this month.

"There is some important, I want to say, technical, but important things we're trying to wrinkle out," Murphy said Tuesday.

MORENew Jersey Lawmakers Hammering Out Details Of Marijuana Legalization

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari is the bill's primary sponsor. He has been trying to get marijuana legalized in the Garden State for more than a decade.

"It has to do with the underage possession of marijuana and what the appropriate penalties for that should be," Scutari told CBS2's Meg Baker.

He said it's looking like the law will make marijuana possession a civil penalty instead of criminal.

Also included in the decriminalization bill is giving those already convicted a new start.

"So those would be wiped clean, and there would be no longer a requirement of an arrest for possession of marijuana," Scutari said.

MOREMarijuana In New Jersey: State Senate Passes Bill Legalizing Possession Of 6 Ounces Of Pot

Cannabis industry expert Mike McQueeny said lawmakers are trying to get away from past laws that needlessly jailed people for possession.

"But at the same time we want to make sure that our kids are given enough space from cannabis until they can make the mature decision once they come of age at 21," McQueeny said.

Insiders say it's looking like both the decriminalization and regulation bills will not be signed this week, but could move forward next.

Once signed, that still doesn't mean you will be able to purchase pot right away.

"It's going to take at least six months to make those rules, probably closer to a year until you can actually go up to a store and buy proper regulated adult-use cannabis," McQueeny said.

Current medical marijuana dispensaries will be the first approved to sell recreationally to the general public, but they must meet their patients' needs first.

CBS2's Meg Baker contributed to this report


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