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At League of Municipalities conference, it’s clear that getting votes for tokes is going to take more than just lining up legislators
State Senate President Steve Sweeney has drawn a line in the sand regarding adult-use marijuana legalization, but local leaders have their own recommendations and concerns.
“We’ll have (a bill) out of both committees by the end of the month,” Sweeney told reporters at the League of Municipalities conference in Atlantic City, meaning a legislative debate on the subject could begin within days.
Since 1970, the federal government has maintained a strict prohibition on cannabis, but in recent years, that prohibition has been bypassed by a growing number of states that have legalized medical and adult use marijuana. New Jersey is now poised to join the green revolution sweeping the nation. Learning from the successes and follies of California, Colorado, Washington State, Nevada, Oregon and others, New Jersey is aptly positioned to create, regulate, and tax a robust cannabis market.
Below is the list of bills in the New Jersey legislature that may come to votes this summer or fall.
S830 Legalizes possession and personal use of small amounts of marijuana for persons age 21 and over; creates Division of Marijuana Enforcement and licensing structure.
S997 Requires registered qualifying patient's authorized use of medical Marijuana to be considered equivalent to use of any other prescribed medication.
No bills have been posted as of yet, but several major issues appear to be poised for review by the Legislature.
There is more to this issue than meets the eye as the Legislature braces for a vote on decriminalizing marijuana, possibly by the end of this month. Senate President Stephen Sweeney says he has the votes to pass S-2702 (Scutari) and S-2703 (Scutari). But at the present time there are more questions than answers:
A recent bill, S-2702 — which was introduced to the state Senate by Senator Nicholas Scutari on June 7th, and would legalize marijuana for all adults over 21 — includes a provision about expungement, though it would still require an application. Advocates want this expungement to be automatic, where the state takes on the process of expunging records rather than the person charged. However Kate Bell, legislative council for the Marijuana Policy Project, says that the phrase “automatic” is very misleading.
The first three bullet points pertain to recreational use. Please note this is not an exhaustive list.
S2703 – “New Jersey Marijuana Legalization Act”; legalizes possession and personal use of marijuana for persons age 21 and over; creates Division of Marijuana Enforcement and licensing structure; introduced on June 7, 2018 by Senators Scutari and Sweeney and referred to Senate Judiciary Committee http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2018/Bills/S3000/2703_I1.PDF
Don't hold your breath for movement on legislation to legalize marijuana before Saturday's state budget deadline.
Legislators and industry insiders say it's going to be kicked down the road until after New Jersey gets a budget.
Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, who proposed his recreational/medicinal marijuana mashup just three weeks ago, told NJ Advance Media there'll be no push to get legislation done this week but he believes it could be hashed out over the next month.
For the past several years, the question of whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults has been a hotly debated topic across the country. The 2017 gubernatorial race brought this debate to New Jersey, when then-candidate Phil Murphy proclaimed that one of his goals for his first 100 days as Governor would be the passage of legislation to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults. While those 100 days have come and gone without the passage of such legislation, Governor Murphy remains committed to the legalization of recreational marijuana.
At a time when states in New England and the nearby mid-Atlantic region are sprinting toward various styles of legalization and regulation, New Jersey’s fledgling medical marijuana industry is caught in a predicament.