What happened

Several marijuana stocks did well on Thursday, particularly Curaleaf Holdings (OTC:CURLF), which closed nearly 6.3% higher. That's likely due to legislative developments in New Jersey. 

So what

The state's Assembly -- one of its two legislative chambers -- passed a bill Thursday decriminalizing possession of up to two ounces of cannabis. If the measure passes in the state Senate and is signed into law by Governor Phil Murphy, it will become law (though I have to note that a similar bill was recently introduced in the latter body but hasn't yet been put to a vote).

This should be considered only a step toward full legalization of recreational marijuana in New Jersey. After all, a public vote on this will be held this coming Election Day, and recent polling indicates robust support in favor.

Marijuana bud on fire.

Image source: Getty Images.

Happily for Curaleaf, it's one of only a few multi-state operators (MSOs) with a presence in the state, where at least the medical form of the drug is currently legal. The company operates a dispensary in the southern municipality of Bellmawr, which is just across the Delaware River from Philadelphia.

Now what

Decriminalization isn't legalization, so even if the bill passes into law, it won't affect Curaleaf's business much. Rather, investors are looking to November; this legislative move indicates that full recreational legalization will occur then. At that point, Curaleaf and other marijuana companies will start to benefit directly.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.