New Jersey voters overwhelmingly said yes to legalizing recreational marijuana use to adults 21 and over in the Garden State, according to the Associated Press.

With half of the votes counted on Tuesday night, nearly two-thirds of the state’s voters cast ballots in favor of changing the state constitution to make weed legal.

With voter approval of the measure, the New Jersey State Legislature is now charged with drafting legislation that will create the framework for a legal, regulated adult marijuana industry that’s expected to generate millions of dollars in revenue.

Amol Sinha, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, led the campaign for legalizing cannabis, framing its legalization as a racial justice issue.

“We have the electorate saying, ‘We want to see legislation that reflects racial justice,” said Sinha, who lead NJCan2020, a coalition of cannabis-industry lobbying and social justice advocates that campaigned in favor of passage.

“So now the legislature has its marching orders … to implement the constitutional amendment as soon as possible.”

Sinha said the legislation drafted should include provisions for expunging the arrest records of people who were arrested for using marijuana in the past; creating a diverse industry that allows people with past criminal convictions to get licenses to sell cannabis in the legal market; and designating tax revenue to help communities of color that were targeted by the War on Drugs.

The ballot measure also creates a commission that will regulate the state’s cannabis industry.

Passage of the measure marks a significant and long-awaited victory for Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat who campaigned in 2016 on a promise to legalize weed as a source of revenue -- and, more vocally, an act of social justice.

“Public Question #1 to legalize adult-use marijuana passed overwhelmingly tonight, a huge step forward for racial and social justice and our economy,” Murphy wrote on Twitter. “Thank you to @NJCAN2020 and all the advocates for standing on the right side of history.”

Murphy, a father of four, framed legalization as a blow to an unfair criminal justice system that unfairly targets Blacks and Latinos for cannabis violations. The ACLU in New Jersey reports that arrests of Black and brown men are three times higher than for whites, though usage rates are similar.

Those arrest records later become obstacles to finding work.

The governor had hoped to pass the measure through legislation. That failed last year due to a lack of support in the Senate; several legislators feared legalization would create a generation of young addicts.

Instead, they tossed the issue to voters to decide.

The marijuana industry has also been hungry for a stake in the New Jersey market. The state’s large population of nearly 9 million people, and its location close to East Coast cities like New York and Philadelphia makes it an attractive location or an industry always looking to grow new customers and expand markets.

Marijuana Business Daily projected the weed industry could generate as much as $850 million a year by 2024 from New Jersey alone.

Opponents of the measure, however, feared it would come at a great cost to communities and youth. Use of marijuana by youth under the age of 21 was shown to have climbed following legalization in Colorado. And, in Denver, pot shops tended to be located in poor and minority communities that also had to contend with the odor.

While many Black social justice advocates and legislators supported Murphy in supporting legalization as a racial justice measure, they hoped for legislation that would undo some of the damage of aggressive policing in Black communities around marijuana, known as the “War on drugs.”

Among other measures, they wanted a legalization bill that would allow people with arrest records for low-level marijuana usage to get their records cleared, so that they could also join the legal cannabis industry.

With the voters’ approval of the ballot measure, it is now in the hands of the state legislature to set up the framework for how a marijuana industry would operate.

That includes setting the sales tax amount, and the criteria for obtaining a license to sell cannabis.

Social justice advocates are urging legislators to implement social justice measures into that framework.

Recreational weed is legal in 11 states, and the District of Columbia. New Jersey is one of five states that had marijuana-related issues on their ballots. Arizona, Montana and South Dakota all considered legalizing recreational marijuana. Mississippi voters cast votes on medical marijuana. Medical weed was passed in New Jersey in 2010.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has promised to legalize weed in New York State in 2021.

Under federal law, cannabis is listed as an illegal schedule 1 substance, along with drugs like heroin and ecstacy.

The Drug Enforcement Administration describes schedule 1 drugs as those with a high potential for abuse, or psychological dependence.