New Jersey: Legislative Leaders Reach Consensus on Marijuana Legalization Plan

Legislative leaders reached an agreement on the final details of a proposed plan to legalize the commercial marijuana market.

In a joint statement issued late Friday by Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicholas Scutari, and Assembly Majority Conference Chair Annette Quijano, lawmakers announced: “We’ve reached an agreement on legislation providing the framework for legalization, which is a critical step in reducing racial disparities and social inequities that have long plagued our criminal justice system. This legislation will accomplish our shared goals of delivering restorative justice and ensuring that the communities most impacted by the War on Drugs see the economic benefits of the adult-use cannabis market. While there is still much work ahead, we are one step closer to building a new, promising industry for our state.”

New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved Public Question 1 on Election Day, which instructs lawmakers to enact legislation permitting for adults to possess and purchase marijuana from licensed retailers.

The New Jersey Globe reports that the agreement among the state’s top lawmakers calls for capping the number of commercial cultivators at 37 for the first two years, and directing 70 percent of the revenue derived from sales taxes toward social justice programs. 

The bill will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee on December 14 and be sent to the floor for a vote on December 17, Sen. Scutari said.

Separate legislation is also pending to remove penalties for the possession of up to six ounces and distribution of up to one ounce of marijuana.

Commenting on the agreement, NORML State Policies Coordinator Carly Wolf said, “The time for legislative action on marijuana legalization is now. I commend legislative leaders for finally coming to an agreement and urge the swift enactment of these regulations and an immediate end to marijuana arrests in the Garden State. Voters made their mandate clear; stop arresting our friends, family, and neighbors for marijuana and instead replace the failed policy of prohibition with a pragmatic regulatory framework that focuses on social equity and reinvesting in communities most harmed by the drug war.”

If you live in New Jersey, urge your lawmakers to end marijuana arrests now and regulate an inclusive market.