The Garden State could legalize recreational marijuana by the end of this month. After a year of negotiations, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) announced Tuesday that he had reached an agreement with leaders in the state legislature to legalize adult-use cannabis.
Lawmakers are expected to hold a vote on the legislation on March 25, and the governor could sign in the bill into law later the same week. It’s not clear how soon the bill would go into effect.
“Legalizing adult-use marijuana is a monumental step to reducing disparities in our criminal justice system,” said Gov. Murphy in a press release. “After months of hard work and thoughtful negotiations, I’m thrilled to announce an agreement with my partners in the Legislature on the broad outlines of adult-use marijuana legislation. I believe that this legislation will establish an industry that brings fairness and economic opportunity to all of our communities, while promoting public safety by ensuring a safe product and allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on serious crimes.”
The agreement includes a plan for expedited expungement of low-level marijuana convictions as well as provisions to encourage women and minorities to open cannabis businesses.
“The prohibition on marijuana has long been a failed policy,” said Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D). “This plan will bring an end to the adverse effects our outdated drug laws have had on the residents of our state. As a regulated product legalized marijuana will be safe and controlled. It is time to legalize adult use marijuana in New Jersey and this is a well crafted legal reform that will advance social policy in a fair and effective way.”
According the legislation, a five-member Cannabis Regulatory Commission will establish rules for marijuana cultivation and distribution. Three members will be appointed by the governor, and the other two will be chosen by the Assembly Speaker and the Senate President.
The state will collect excise tax at a rate $42 per ounce of adult-use marijuana, subject to collection at cultivation. Municipalities with cannabis retailers will collect a 3% tax, 2% from cultivators or manufacturers, and 1% from wholesalers.