After months of debates, the New Jersey marijuana legalization bill was set to receive a vote. The bill is known as the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act. It came to life in the middle of the Northeast’s marijuana boom. The passing of the bill would make New Jersey the 11th state to legalize marijuana for recreational use. It would also become the nearest legalization state to New York City. Despite the effort put into passing the bill, the vote was canceled by Democratic lawmakers on Monday, March 25 and postponed to an unknown future date.
Both Newark and Jersey City mayors believe marijuana is “the most important controversial policy issue of our time.” The new act has 3 bills in total, all of which are in relation to marijuana. The main points of the act are:
- Legalizing possession of up to one ounce of marijuana
- Larger possessions of marijuana would become a disorderly persons offense
- The creation of a new cannabis industry, allowing for weed dispensaries and license for individuals to produce, distribute, and sell marijuana products
- Tax marijuana at a flat rate of $42 per ounce
- Expedite expungements of marijuana offenses.
The bill required 21 votes to pass in the Senate. Several legislators had hope that the bill would pass. They believed it would send a message about legalizing marijuana to the rest of the country. These Senate members were not the only ones with hope, as polls showed most New Jersey residents supported the bill as well.
Despite this support, there were many other legislators did not agree with the legalization and pushed back on passing the bill. Senate members argued over the impact the bill would have on the people of New Jersey if marijuana was legalized in the state. Concerns regarding the increase of crime in urban areas, people driving under the influence, keeping drugs away from kids and teenagers, and the impact it on public health were raised. While the vote passed in the Assembly Appropriations and the Senate Judiciary Committees the week before, only 17 or 18 Senate members agreed to vote yes for the bill in the next vote. This left the bill about 4 votes short of passing.
Even though the vote was postponed, members of the Senate do not feel defeated. Democratic Governor Phil Murphy, who pushed for the bill, believes “Justice may be delayed, but justice will not be denied.” Senate President Steve Sweeney also acknowledged his plans to move forward with the bill by saying, “We’ll be back at this … Anybody who thinks this is dead is wrong.”
The law firm of Mattleman, Weinroth & Miller, P.C., is composed of experienced defense attorneys throughout the state of New Jersey. Please contact the office for a free initial consultation and get any questions answered regarding criminal charges and procedures.