A haze hung over New Jersey's recreational marijuana legalization effort on Thursday as negotiations over taxes delayed required legislation.
Democrat-led Assembly and Senate committees had planned to consider legislation setting up the recreational marijuana market, just over a week after voters overwhelmingly approved recreational marijuana on the ballot.
A critical vote had been scheduled for Thursday, but has been held up as Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Gov. Phil Murphy — all Democrats — discuss at what level the substance should be taxed, according to Senate Budget Committee Chairman Paul Sarlo and Assembly Appropriations Committee Chairman John Burzichelli.
The 216-page measure lawmakers were supposed to consider this week is a thicket of technical details and jargon. It was set for a vote on the floor of both chambers for Monday, but lawmakers say that's also expected to be held now. Still, the delays are expected to be worked out as early as next week.
Murphy and Coughlin have said they support an excise tax, which applies to specific goods or services and which consumers ultimately pay. Legislation that all three leaders agreed on last year but that ultimately stalled included a $42-per-ounce tax. It's unclear if that's the level being considered again.
"If we get the tax formula wrong, the only people who are going to win will be the bad guys on the street," Burzichelli said. That's because marijuana bought outside the legal market could be much cheaper if the tax rate is too high.