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Watch New Jersey Lawmakers Debate Marijuana Legalization Ahead Of Critical Vote

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New Jersey lawmakers in key committees are set to vote on a package of marijuana-related legislation, including a bill to fully legalize cannabis, on Monday.

You can follow along and watch the hearing live on this feed from NJTV News:

A joint session of the Senate and Assembly panels kicked off around 11:00 AM, with the main bill’s sponsor, state Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D), discussing the economic and criminal justice benefits of legalization.

He was followed by Sen. Ron Rice (D), who said that legalization was designed to enrich certain individuals and doesn’t lead to social justice.

Observers have noted that turnout at Monday’s hearing is exceptional, with advocates and opponents of marijuana reform packing the chamber.

Former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI), co-founder of the anti-marijuana group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, spoke out against the legalization bill and sparred with lawmakers. At one point, he was asked whether he believes alcohol should be prohibited—and after hesitating to respond, he said he did not but that alcohol advertisements should be more tightly regulated.

There are three bills on the docket. Adult-use legalization is the centerpiece legislation, with retail sales taxed at 12 percent, but there are also bills to expand the state’s existing medical cannabis program and expedite expungements for low-level marijuana offenses. Read the full text of the latest versions of all three bills here.

This story will be updated with highlights from the hearings.

Read The Marijuana Bills New Jersey Lawmakers Will Vote On Next Week

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Kyle Jaeger is Marijuana Moment's Sacramento-based senior editor. His work has also appeared in High Times, VICE and attn.

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