Marijuana Legalization in New Jersey

Today, committees from both the state Senate and Assembly approved a bill that would legalize the possession and personal use of marijuana. Separately, the Senate Health Committee, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, and the Assembly Appropriations Committee all cleared a bill that would make it easier for patients to qualify and obtain cannabis.

These bills will are intended to provide important first steps in addressing criminal justice issues that have plagued communities for decades. The package of legislation would also create an important tool in our economic development toolkit as look to revive our downtowns. Obviously, any legislation would be specifically tailored to the needs of each community.

I encourage you to take a look at the bills below (linked on first reference) and to a few good articles (posted toward the bottom) following today’s State House deliberations. I also encourage you to send questions to your state and local policymakers. Find your state representatives here.

The medical marijuana bill, S-10, would:

  • Give advance practice nurses and nurse practitioners authority to recommend patients to the program;
  • Permit out-of-state medicinal marijuana patients from the 32 states where it is also legal to buy and consume cannabis in New Jersey;
  • Shield registered patients from losing their jobs “unless an employer establishes by a preponderance of the evidence that the lawful use of medical cannabis has impaired the employee’s ability to perform the employee’s job responsibilities”;
  • Protect patients from losing visitation or custody of their children because they are registered in the program;
  • Phase out the 6.625 percent sales tax over five years.

The recreational marijuana bill, S-2703 (and proposed amendments), would:

  • Legalize the possession and personal use of one ounce or less of marijuana for people at least 21 years old;
  • Create, regulate and impose a 12 percent tax a commercial marijuana industry in the state;
  • Impose an extra 2 percent excise tax that could be raised for towns which host cannabis businesses;
  • Create an electronic expungement filing system for marijuana crimes that would now be considered legal.

Here is what some legislators have said:

  • Senator Patrick Diegnan, D-18: “Drug dealers are going to suddenly be out of business. It is not an addictive drug.”
  • Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-19: “The release of both the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Expungement Aid Modernization Act and Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act represents an important step forward after months of internal deliberations among sponsors. We will continue working the bills towards passage to create a well-regulated and inclusive marijuana industry that is rooted in social and economic justice.”
  • Assemblyman Jamel C. Holley, D-20: “An opportunity for a clean slate for someone who has committed minor offenses is the best thing we can do to enable them to seize the opportunities life presents them. Moving this bill alongside legislation concerning the legalization of cannabis is critically important to correcting the wrongs of the past as we now look forward to the future of marijuana use in New Jersey. Expanding definitions, and creating a process for residents to clear their name and their record had to be a part of, a critical part of, cannabis regulation.
  • Assemblyman Holley also gave a powerful speech on legalization today. Watch:

    Additional reading:

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