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Supporters Say Recreational Marijuana Could Be Legal In New Jersey By Next Summer Thanks To Murphy Win

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) -- Democrat Phil Murphy's win in New Jersey Tuesday night could pave the way for the legalization of recreational marijuana.

Democratic state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, the sponsor of a recreational cannabis bill, says Murphy is fully committed to legalizing marijuana.

With support from the governor-elect and legislative leaders, proponents of recreational marijuana say sales could begin next summer.

"We have the support of over 50 percent of the population of New Jersey," said Ken Wolski, executive director of the Coalition for Medical Marijuana in New Jersey. "We're very confident that legalization is going to be a reality here in New Jersey certainly by the summer of 2018."

Proponents say legalizing pot would cut down on arrests and make the drug cheaper.

"The harms that are associated with our current policy of prohibition are really, really dreadful," Wolski said. "A marijuana conviction can affect the type of employment that is available to people, the type of housing that is available."

Wolski said legalization would make marijuana more like an over-the-counter drug.

"Where any adult could go into a store and purchase marijuana much the same way that they purchase aspirin," he said.

Sales taxes revenue from legal cannabis could rake in an estimated $300 million a year, WCBS 880's Marla Diamond reported.

The governor-elect intends to use the money to help the ailing public employee pension system.

Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney hopes to pass the measure as soon as the new governor gets situated.

Scutari said he will continue to meet with industry leaders as he revises the bill.

Gov. Chris Christie was adamantly opposed to the legislation, labeling marijuana a gateway drug to opioids.

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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