New Jersey Committees Pass Legislation to Legalize Marijuana
New Jersey’s Senate and Assembly Appropriations Committees approved legislation today that would make marijuana legal for everyone at least 21 years old.
By a vote of seven to two, with four members abstaining, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved Senate Bill 2703 today, which is sponsored by Senator Nicholas Scutari. Also today, the Assembly Appropriations Committee approved Assembly Bill 4497, sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, by a vote of six to one, with two members abstaining. The measures will now go to the full chambers for a vote; passage in both chambers would send the legisaltion to Governor Murphy, who made legalization one of his top platforms during his successful election campaign last year.
According to the Marijuana Policy Project, the legislation:
- allows adults 21 and older to possess limited amounts of marijuana (one ounce), marijuana-infused products (16 ounces in solid form, 72 ounces in liquid form), and marijuana extracts (seven grams), although, unlike most other states to have adopted legalization, the cultivation of any amount of cannabis by adults in their own homes would remain a crime;
- sets a tax rate of 12 percent of the retail price (including the sales tax), plus an optional local tax of up to 2 percent;
- provides for five types of regulated marijuana businesses: growers, product manufacturers, wholesalers, testing facilities, and retailers, who can deliver marijuana and some of which may include consumption areas;
- allows local jurisdictions extensive control over the number and types of businesses in their borders, including the ability to impose local licensing requirements; and
- establishes a five-member appointed Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which would serve as the regulatory agency overseeing both the new adult-use and the existing medical cannabis programs.
“New Jersey is one step closer to replacing marijuana prohibition with sensible regulation”, says Kate M. Bell, general counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project. “Arresting adult cannabis consumers is a massive waste of law enforcement officials’ time and resources, and it does nothing to improve public health or safety. Prohibition forces marijuana sales into the underground market, where it is impossible to control them.”
Bell continues; “Under the proposed regulated system, businesses will be governed by strict rules, and authorities will be empowered to make sure those rules are being followed.”
If New Jersey lawmakers do legalize marijuana, their state would become the 11th to do so.