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New Jersey Recreational Cannabis Bill Inches toward Approval




New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Steve Sweeney announced on March 12 that they’ve agreed upon legislation to legalize recreational cannabis in the state. The bill only has a few more hurdles to clear before it can become law. S.2073, or the New Jersey Marijuana Legalization Act, was introduced on June 7, 2018 and sponsored by Sen. Nicholas P. Scutari and Sen. Steve Sweeney.

Gov. Murphy used cannabis reform as a selling point while on the campaign trail in 2017, and his convictions are the same today. “Legalizing adult-use marijuana is a monumental step to reducing disparities in our criminal justice system,” Murphy said in a statement. “I believe that this legislation will establish an industry that brings fairness and economic opportunity to all of our communities, while promoting public safety by ensuring a safe product and allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on serious crimes.”

The deal would impose a $42 per ounce tax on cannabis product. Municipalities and towns would collect a three percent tax, those with cultivators would collect two percent and those with wholesalers would collect one percent. Under the proposal, a regulatory commission would oversee the state’s cannabis industry. Three members would be appointed by the governor and the remaining two commission members would be suggested by the Senate Assembly speaker.

Not everyone, however, is a fan of the proposed legislation. Republican Sen. Gerald Cardinale slammed the bill, envisioning a state riddled with traffic accidents. “That blood money that he’s going to collect in taxes—that is blood money,” Cardinale claimed. “It is going to come from the blood of people who don’t use marijuana who unfortunately are involved with people who do.”

The bill is expected to be released within a few days, and next, it will pass on to a committee and will be sent for a floor vote in the House and Senate. The next voting session is scheduled for March 25.