Regardless of our personal opinions about the topic, legal marijuana appears to be taking the nation by storm. This is leading many community members in New Jersey — including medical and recreational users of marijuana — to wonder when our state might legalize the drug for wider use.

For those waiting for legalization, it seems that 2018 could be a year when our country sees more states jumping onto the legal marijuana bandwagon. Could New Jersey be one of them?

Gov. Phil Murphy campaigned with a pro-marijuana legalization platform, and he has plans to get a legal marijuana bill passed next year. The state Senate is also reviewing a bill for legal pot, which supporting legislators hope to deliver to the governor for signing soon. New Jersey is not alone either, as other states are also following suit with marijuana legislation of their own, which they’ve slated for passing in 2018. Then there’s California, which will begin sales of recreational pot on the first of the year.

As for public approval, 64 percent of Americans wanted to legalize pot as of last October. This is the first time that the majority of Americans held such an opinion on the topic. As for medical marijuana, a whopping 94 percent of Americans are in favor of giving pot-based medications to people who can benefit from the drug.

Only time will tell whether New Jersey and other states will succeed in expanding medical and recreational marijuana laws. In the meantime, New Jersey residents need to be aware that they can be arrested and charged with serious crimes if police find them in possession of marijuana. If you have been accused of any marijuana crime in the state, learn about your legal rights and options, and investigate how you can defend yourself against the charges.

Source: The Law Offices of Anthony N. Palumbo, “Marijuana Offenses,” accessed Dec. 29, 2017