Now that voters in New Jersey have approved a measure to open the recreational cannabis industry in the state, the next steps take place in Trenton on Monday.
Late Friday, Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-22) announced the introduction of bill S-21. It establishes the organizational and regulatory system to oversee the operations of the cannabis business in New Jersey.
The legislation will be heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday. Its counterpart, A-21, will be heard in the Assembly Oversight, Reform and Federal Relations Committee.
“This is a historic step forward that will bring marijuana out of the underground market with a regulatory system that ensures the safe use of cannabis products by adults,” Scutari said in a statement. “With the overwhelming support of the public, we will now move forward as quickly as possible to erase the failed policy of marijuana prohibition with reforms that will help correct the social and legal injustices that have had a discriminatory impact on communities of color.”
The “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Modernization Act,” found here, has some similarities to a 176-page bill that Scutari had previously introduced.
While employment protections have been included in the draft language, NJBIA is seeking amendments to the bill.
Lawmakers previously clashed over the original bill and it did not advance through the Legislature – which led to the ballot referendum in the first place. It is yet unclear whether lawmakers who opposed the original legislation will get on board for the post-referendum bill.
The ballot question was supported, 67% – 32%. Under the ballot question, some regulations for the new industry will be established by the state Legislature, while other rules will be created by a five-member Cannabis Regulatory Commission that will oversee the market. That commission was announced by Gov. Phil Murphy on Friday.
Cannabis transactions will be subject to the 6.625% sales tax, while municipalities can impose an additional 2% tax.
Murphy has thrown his support behind the legalization of recreational cannabis to bring new revenue to the state and he believes ongoing criminalization of cannabis in the state is a drain on taxpayer dollars.