Recreational Cannabis In New Jersey: The Path To Legalization

Recreational Cannabis In New Jersey: The Path To Legalization

Recreational Cannabis In New Jersey: what you need to know. New Jersey's path to potentially legalize recreational marijuana is center stage with t

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Recreational Cannabis In New Jersey: what you need to know.

New Jersey’s path to potentially legalize recreational marijuana is center stage with today’s (3/5/18) legislative hearing on the subject.

The Assembly Oversight Committee will hear experts today speak about cannabis legalization. This is the very first action taken in the Assembly on marijuana since new Democratic Speaker Craig Coughlin took over leadership of the chamber this year.

“I’m going to let the committee do its work and I’m going to look at what they’ve done. Certainly on my own I’ll start to look at the issue and do what we can to get it right,” Coughlin said.

The hearing comes as Murphy drafts his first budget, which he is going to unveil later this month. Murphy sees the potential $300 million in cannabis revenue as a way to hold true to his promises to increase education and pension spending. If cannabis is the key to making good on his pledges, then Murphy appears a staunch supporter in the struggle to legalize.

Murphy made no mention of his campaign pledge to legalize marijuana in his address to the state’s political community several days prior to the Hearing, however.

Recreational Cannabis In New Jersey: What’s At Stake

Previously introduced legislation proposed the legalization of recreational marijuana for adults 21 and over. It permits possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, sixteen ounces of marijuana infused products in solids, seventy two ounces in liquid form, seven grams of concentrate and up to 6 immature plants. This is a liberal and comprehensive approach.

The legislation will establish a Division of Marijuana Enforcement charged with regulating the industry. The legislation also would establish a sales tax on marijuana which would rise incrementally from 7% to 25% over 5 years.

Recreational Cannabis In New Jersey: Public Support

The public’s view of legalization seems mixed, however. A February Fairleigh Dickinson University survey showed 42% favoring legalization, while nearly equal percentages of respondents backed no legislative change or only favored decriminalization. The poll surveyed 801 New Jersey residents and has a potential margin of error  3.8 points, plus or minus.

Conversely, a separate September 2017 Quinnipiac University poll showed a slightly more promising 59% favoring marijuana legalization. The poll surveyed 1,121 voters with a margin of error of 4 points.

9 states and also the District of Columbia have already legalized marijuana. New Jersey has a medical marijuana program that Murphy has said he wants to expand.

Recreational Cannabis In New Jersey: US Senator Booker Speaks To NJ Cannabis Insider

The Trump administration’s decision to step up enforcement of federal marijuana laws is a “tipping point” in the effort to legalize the drug nationally. This is according to U.S. Sen. Cory Booker.

Booker, told NJ Cannabis Insider that he’s talked to a number of federal lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who come from states that have legalized the drug. These lawmakers stand in opposition to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement in January that the Justice Department again would prosecute marijuana cases in states that have legalized the drug.

“For every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction,” Booker said in the NJ Cannabis Insider interview. “More Republicans are saying,’ Let the states do what they really want to do.’ This is an extremely important tipping point.”

If the legislation survives, it could spur one of N.J.’s greatest economic opportunities in years.

Booker has introduced legislation to eliminate the federal prohibition on marijuana, leaving it entirely up to the states to decide whether to legalize it. More than forty states now allow the use of marijuana for personal or medical use.

Up to now, only 2 senators, both Democrats, Ron Wyden of Oregon and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, have signed onto Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act. Rep. Barbara Lee, D Calif., has introduced similar legislation in the House, which has attracted twenty four Democratic sponsors, including Rep. Donald Payne Jr., D-10th Dist.