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After years of frustrating delays due in no small part to intensely corrupt politicians, the Garden State is finally making progress on cannabis legalization. On Monday, November 26th, 2018, committees in both the Senate and the State Assembly in New Jersey voted to release an adult legalization measure to the floor for a general vote.
This new bill, S-2703, would legalize possession of up to an ounce of cannabis for personal use for adults aged 21 or older. There will also be regulations for a commercial cannabis industry, with a 12% tax on cannabis businesses that can also include up to 12 percent in taxes to the local township. The bill will also mandate the creation of an electronic filing system for those seeking expungement of previous possession or distribution charges.
However, New Jersey lawmakers were not satisfied with simply pushing for a single legal reform. They also moved forward on a bill, S-10, intended to expand the medical cannabis program in the state.
If this bill passes, patients with a medical cannabis card can legally purchase up to three ounces of cannabis a month. It will also allow for the legal purchasing of edibles and the ability of patients to frequent any state dispensary, not just one to which they belong.
There’s also S-3205, which would add multiple new crimes to New Jersey’s expungement law. It will also reduce the wait time before someone can begin the expungement process to five years instead of six.
The recent gains made by legalization activists across the United States will no doubt impact how New Jersey lawmakers vote on these potential bills in the future. New Jersey relies in no small part on tourism and shopping money from people across New England. Embracing legalization earlier than other states will allow New Jersey to profit from tax income and sales to adults who travel to New Jersey from elsewhere to take advantage of this new law.
It is still possible that New Jersey’s lawmakers will not pass these bills. However, after years of a hostile executive branch throttling impacting every attempt at cannabis reform, it seems as though both the Senate and the Assembly in New Jersey are hungry for change. If brought to a vote and passed, these bills could effectively make New Jersey the 11th state to legalize cannabis for adult recreational use. Here’s hoping that New Jersey is headed toward a rational and compassionate cannabis policy.
For previous Ladybud articles about New Jersey, click here.