Here are some of the major changes approved by lawmakers and differences that will need to be resolved:
Growers' licenses: The bill originally limited the number of licenses for cannabis growers to 28 in the first 18 months after legal sales begin. The latest Assembly version raises the cap on growers' licenses to 37 in the first 2 years after sales begin, without limiting such licenses to marijuana microbusinesses — those with 10 or fewer employees. The Senate version does not include any cap. An official in Gov. Phil Murphy's administration official said the governor supports eliminating caps to allow the industry to grow more quickly, and be more accessible to women- and minority-owned businesses.
Tax rate: The constitutional amendment passed by voters on election day taxed legal weed at the state's sales tax rate of 6.625%, and allowed municipalities to charge an additional 2%. But Murphy and leaders of the Legislature, which can levy additional taxes, disagreed about whether another fee should be added on. The latest version of the bill gives the regulatory commission power to add a .33% fee on cultivators, making the total tax rate about 7%, when weed goes on sale. Then after nine months the regulatory commission can decide whether to charge an additional fee depending on the average price of 1 ounce of weed. The higher the sale price, the smaller the fee. For example if the price of 1 ounce is $350 or more, the fee would be $10. If the price is below $199, the fee would be $60
Revenue dedication: The above fees and revenue from the small tax bump would be split among police departments, the regulatory commission and social equality programs, like re-entry for people leaving prisons, food assistance, legal aid, healthcare, literacy and others. Initially the bill dedicated revenues only to the regulatory commission and police officers with extra training to detect impaired drivers, drawing concern from social justice groups. The Senate version of the bill also dedicates 70% of total sales tax revenue to social justice programs and 30% to administrative costs and police departments.