After weeks of negotiations and years of debate, legislators today are expected to finally pass needed legislation that would make marijuana legal in New Jersey beginning Jan. 1.
The Legislature today is expected to pass the two pieces of "enabling" legislation designed to turn New Jersey voters' wishes to legalize marijuana into reality, allowing marijuana users to possess up to 6 ounces of weed and setting up the framework of a license and tax structure for the purchase and sale of legal weed.
The Senate and Assembly are scheduled to hold full legislative votes on the bills during 12 p.m. voting sessions. If passed, the legal weed bills will head to Gov. Phil Murphy's desk to become law.
If the Legislature doesn't pass the bills, New Jersey would be in a unique situation where, as of Jan. 1, marijuana would remain illegal despite the will of voters.
"You're going to have the constitution saying it's legal and we'll have no regulations," Sen. Nick Scutari, D-Union, said during a judiciary committee hearing last week. "We'll have shirked our responsibility to the public to pass reasonable regulations of an industry that they have commanded us, by greater than a 2-to-1 margin, to legalize and regulate.
"So if we don't get this done, it's the wild west on Jan. 1."