Today, the state Assembly Oversight Committee is holding its first hearing on recreational pot, where advocates for legalization will face off with lawmakers who want to limit or even prevent the Garden State from legalizing cannabis. “I’m going to let the committee do its work and I’m going to look at what they’ve done,” Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said to the Associated Press. “Certainly on my own I’ll start to look at the issue and do what we can to get it right. “
Democratic State Senator Nicholas Scutari, chair of the state Senate Judiciary Committee, has introduced a bill that would allow adults aged 21 or older to legally purchase and possess limited quantities of cannabis or grow up to six plants themselves. The bill would also set up a licensed retail sales market, governed by a newly-minted Division of Marijuana Enforcement. The sales tax would begin at 7%, to encourage early participation, and rise to 25% within five years.
Lawmakers’ support for legalization seems mixed, with several Democrats undecided on the issue, and most Republicans opposing legalization outright. Democratic State Senator Ron Rice is arguing that the state should decriminalize cannabis instead of opting for full legalization. Html”>planning to propose three bills today that all hinge on the success of legal weed in the state. “Clearing the records of these individuals will allow them to access federal higher education loans, affordable housing programs, and greater employment opportunities. Html”>re-training drug-sniffing dogs if cannabis were to become legal.
While the debate over legalization blazes on, a number of new startup businesses are already getting involved in New Jersey’s impending cannabis industry. Starting a business that directly handles non-medical cannabis will remain illegal in the Garden State until full legalization is enacted, but a number of individuals have started