Legalizing marijuana in New Jersey could be a big deal for the state’s booming legal marijuana industry.
Chris Christie said Monday that New Jersey has the “legal capacity” to legalize marijuana for recreational use, and that the state is ready to work with federal authorities on how to do so.
A bill passed last year by the state House would make recreational marijuana sales legal in New Brunswick, and the state would begin issuing licenses to grow and sell the drug in 2019.
Christie said that New York would follow suit in 2020.NJ legalization advocates say New Jersey already has the legal capacity to grow cannabis for recreational sales, and it is the only state with such a policy.
Christie did not say whether he would sign the bill.
“I think we’re at a place now where it’s just a matter of when,” Christie said.
“It’s a matter for the federal government.”
In a separate interview on CNN’s “New Day,” Christie was asked about whether New Jersey should legalize medical marijuana for the same reasons recreational marijuana was legalized.
“It would be up to the states,” Christie responded.
“If New Jersey wants to legalize medical, that’s up to them.”
The state is set to have its first recreational marijuana market on Jan. 1, 2019, and will start issuing licenses for recreational and medical marijuana in 2021.
The bill Christie signed in April 2016 allowed recreational marijuana in NJ for the first time.
“The state has a tremendous amount of capacity and I think we’ll be able to grow this in a way that is efficient, economical and safe for our patients and our economy,” Christie added.
“We need to be able in a manner that’s consistent with the law, and we’ll do that through a comprehensive regulatory approach.”
Christie, a Republican, is the most prominent Republican governor to back legalization in the country.
The New York Times has reported that Christie is weighing a run for president in 2020, and he recently told a local newspaper that he thinks marijuana legalization will be the “biggest political issue of the century.”