First Order of Business in New Jersey this Year – Legalize Recreational Pot
Governor-elect Phil Murphy of New Jersey is already making good on one of his campaign promises – to legalize cannabis for adult-use. Democratic state Sen. Nicholas Scutari introduced the measure allowing the recreational use of marijuana by those 21 and older on Tuesday, the same day the new session of the Democrat-led Legislature convened. Medical marijuana has been legal in New Jersey since 2010.
The bill permits adults 21 and older to possess of up to one ounce of cannabis flower, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused products in solids, 72 ounces in liquid form, 7 grams of concentrate, and up to six immature plants. The legislation would establish a Division of Marijuana Enforcement; it would also establish a sales tax on marijuana that would rise incrementally from 7 percent to 25 percent over five years to encourage people to participate as soon as possible.
State Legislators Remain Undeterred by Cole Memo Repeal
The introduction of the bill comes in spite of U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement last week that the Department of Justice would be eliminating certain protections for states that have legalized cannabis. Scutari doesn’t see the AG’s plan negatively affecting the legislations’s approval.
“We’re still going to move forward,” he said. “I think it’s going to be difficult for the federal government, especially without local law enforcement, to close it down.”
Incoming Administration Promised Cannabis Approval
Legalizing recreational marijuana was one of Murphy’s main campaign platforms, predicting that the move could bring in an additional $300 million in tax revenue each year. His predecessor, Chris Christie, is vehemently against legalization, arguing that any revenue from cannabis is “blood money.”
It’s unclear how long it will take the bill to move through the New Jersey state legislature, but its passage is likely. Depending on the timeline, the state could become the 10th to legalize adult-use cannabis; Vermont approved legislation on the topic earlier this week.