There’s still plenty of wrangling going on, but the big picture is that legislation has been passed out of committee in both legislative chambers that would legalize recreational marijuana use (i.e., the possession of one ounce or less) by those age 21 or older. The law would also regulate and license those wishing to sell marijuana, and implement a sales tax of 12 percent on purchases. These measures will improve people’s lives, although they are not especially unique given that New Jersey would become the 11th state (along with the District of Columbia) to take them.
Additionally, New Jersey wants to link legalization to other reforms that would make it significantly easier for those who have been convicted of possessing less than an ounce of marijuana to have their convictions expunged. The bill would remove the existing waiting period (usually a few years or up to 10), as well as fees, and the bill mandates that, once the request is made, the court “shall immediately grant an expedited expungement.” Only a handful of states have passed this kind of expungement law, and none of them did so as part of the actual package of laws that legalize recreational marijuana use.