The most recent language of bills to fully legalize marijuana in New Jersey, expand the state’s medical cannabis program and expedite expungements for low-level marijuana offenses was released on Wednesday—just days before a series of hearings on the topic are scheduled at the state Legislature.
The adult-use legalization proposal would allow individuals 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use. It would also establish a regulated, commercial system of production and sales.
Marijuana delivery services and social consumption areas at dispensaries would be allowed under the measure, which is part of a package of cannabis legislation that sponsoring lawmakers hope will be passed before the end of the year.
Legal Marijuana bill finally drops in New Jersey. The details:
✔️Legalizes 1 ounce
✔️Must be 21
✔️"Expedited Expungement" for those with marijuana arrests & convictions
✔️Delivery services allowed
✔️"Consumption areas" allowed @ dispensaries@SusanKLivio:https://t.co/ZKJAAtrOIo
— Matt Katz (@mattkatz00) November 21, 2018
The latest version of the bills aren’t especially different from earlier versions, but there are some changes such as a provision calling for the establishment of a five-member commission tasked with regulating the legal industry. The structure of that commission is opposed by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D), who reportedly preferred regulation to be handled by a part-time commission or one where the executive branch could exert more control.
Another potential sticking point in the bill concerns taxes. The legislation calls for a 12 percent tax on retail cannabis sales. Murphy, for his part, has pushed for a 25 percent tax rate and “privately has said 12 percent is too low,” NJ.com reported.
Up for debate: several marijuana bills, including legalization, in a joint Senate & Assembly committee hearing on Monday at the Statehouse. We’ll be there in Trenton — will you? Show up and demand racial justice in legalization. Details here: https://t.co/1cOSWK6a8T
— ACLU of New Jersey (@ACLUNJ) November 21, 2018
Nonetheless, the bill’s main sponsors are cautiously optimistic that they will garner enough support to pass the legislation and win the governor’s support, possibly before the year’s end. The proposals are scheduled to be taken up by Assembly and Senate committees on Monday.
If some form of legalization is ultimately approved by the full legislature and signed by Murphy, New Jersey will become the 11th state to end cannabis prohibition for adults.
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The separate medical marijuana expansion legislation would increase the amount of cannabis that patients can obtain per month from two to three ounces. It would also allow patients to purchase edible marijuana and visit any dispensary in the state, rather than just the one they’re registered at. Earlier versions of the bill would have let doctors recommend cannabis to patients for any condition, but the latest maintains a specific list of qualifying conditions.
You can read the most recent versions of the bills, obtained by Politico and NorthJersey.com, below.
Photo courtesy of WeedPornDaily.