What’s the Deal With Marijuana Legalization in N.Y. and N.J.?


In New York, there is widespread support among lawmakers to legalize marijuana, but there is a complex debate over how exactly to do it.

In New Jersey, lawmakers may vote on the issue this month, according to a deal announced Tuesday.

What’s the status of marijuana?

New York: Marijuana possession was decriminalized in 1977, but arrests for having small amounts of it continued for decades. Medical marijuana has been legal since 2014.

New Jersey: The state has not decriminalized the drug. Medical marijuana has been legal since 2010.

When could things change?

New York: Not in the next few months. Governor Cuomo wanted to include legalization in the state budget in April but recently acknowledged that he was likely to miss that deadline.

Black lawmakers want assurances that money from the potentially $3 billion industry would benefit communities disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.

• New Jersey: Gov. Philip D. Murphy said Tuesday that his “best guess” was that legal marijuana sales would begin early next year.

Who are the crucial players?

• New York: The main fight is not about whether to legalize marijuana, but how. Shaping that debate are people like the Assembly majority leader, Crystal Peoples-Stokes of Buffalo. She wants a guarantee that people of color will receive licenses to sell marijuana. She also wants a plan for how revenue from sales will be reinvested in minority communities.

New Jersey: The governor and two legislative leaders, all Democrats, have a broad compromise to legalize the drug, expunge some drug-related criminal records and help incentivize businesses owned by people of color.

Craig Coughlin, the Assembly speaker, said he had the votes to pass a bill. Stephen Sweeney, the State Senate president, has said he

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