TRENTON, N.J. — A proposal to legalize and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and older advanced in the New Jersey Legislature Monday.
The Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee approved S2703, sponsored by Senator Nicholas Scutari, (7-2-4), and the Assembly Appropriations Committee approved A4497, sponsored by Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, (6-1-2).
The measures will now go to the full chambers for a vote.
Gov. Phil Murphy has expressed strong support for legalizing and regulating marijuana for adult use.
The amended version of 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 home 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 be permitted to 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.
If the bill passes this year, New Jersey will be the first state to legalize, tax, and regulate cannabis via the legislature.
Such laws have been adopted by voters via ballot initiatives in nine states: Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington.
“New Jersey is one step closer to replacing marijuana prohibition with sensible regulation,” said the Marijuana Policy Project’s Kate Bell in a statement Monday. “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. 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.”
“We are encouraged by the ongoing discussion about how best to address the history of racially disparate enforcement of marijuana laws. By streamlining the expungement process, the state can help ensure people with criminal records for marijuana-related offenses get a clean slate. Nobody should be branded a criminal simply for using a substance that is less harmful than alcohol,” Bell added.