New Jersey residents line up for legalized weed

STORY: Residents of New Jersey rushed to buy weed on Thursday, as the state welcomed the drug's legalization.

"I think it's fantastic. I think it's going to help a lot of people."

"They're happy. We're happy. It's legal now. Don't have to go through all that trouble."

Thursday marked the culmination of a decade-long effort by New Jersey's marijuana advocates to legalize its recreational use for adults.

They also hope the change will help end racially unbalanced prosecution of marijuana-related offenses -- in 2018, Black people were arrested more than three times as often as white people for weed charges despite similar usage rates, according to the New Jersey ACLU.

Only medical marijuana dispensaries can sell for now - but the state's Cannabis Regulatory Commission is currently weighing applications to sell from hundreds of other startups.

Businesses owned by those with prior marijuana convictions, as well as minorities, women and disabled veterans, will receive priority consideration.

For Bergenfield resident Beatrice Friedman, that's a welcome change that benefits her daily routine.

"I was actually in an accident in October. I was smoking before that, not quite as much, but now I use it really to calm down my, to relax my muscles at night from driving all day and from the accident that I had. I had two broken bones. So, now I kind of rely on it a little bit and especially at night, because I don't want to take aspirin every single day, and I don't want to take muscle relaxers every day."

Under the new law, much of the state's cannabis revenue is supposed to be invested in communities most harmed by the "war on drugs."

New Jersey is now one of 18 states, along with Washington, D.C., which have legalized recreational marijuana use.

And cannabis executives hope it will spur other East Coast states to take action, noting that a majority of Americans support legalization.

Analysts expect the marijuana market will eventually exceed $2 billion.

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