The public passed marijuana legalization on Nov. 6th supposedly to be free of the regulatory intrusiveness of government, and today the state Senate Appropriations Committee demonstrated new vistas of intrusive potential as it passed – along party lines – Senate Bill No. 21, with some amendments targeting social justice concerns that diverged from the Assembly version of the bill and created more questions than answers.
S. 21, titled the “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act,” primarily concerns the development, regulation, and enforcement of activities associated with the personal use, by persons 21 years of age or older, of legal cannabis or cannabis resin (the terms provided to distinguish the legalized products from unlawful marijuana or hashish). According to the language of the bill, this would be accomplished through the expansion of the scope and duties of the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, created by P.L.2019, c.153 (C.24:6I-5.1 et al.) to oversee the State’s medical cannabis program, which is primarily set forth in the “Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act,” P.L.2009, c.307 (C.24:6I-1 et al.).
Too many last minute amendments, griped state Senator Declan O’Scanlon (R-13), who worried about the taxes Trenton politicians seemed to be intent on imposing, and new bureaucracies to forge. He voted no.
An always similarly tax fretful state Senator Michael Testa (R-1) noted that federal government contracts could be in jeopardy if impacted employers fail to maintain a drug-free environment.
“The people of New Jersey voted for and support legalization, but they didn’t vote for this bill,” said Testa. “This bill has been pushed and pulled in so many directions by special interests and legislators who want nothing more than to get their hands on a tax windfall. I had to vote ‘No’ and I am disappointed that Trenton couldn’t do the right thing and pass a bill that has not be corrupted by greed.”
He voted no.