NJ Sets Possible Date For Marijuana Legalization – And A Tax

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NJ Sets Possible Date For Marijuana Legalization – And A Tax

Post by notsofasteddie » Thu 18th Oct 2018 12:36 am

NJ Sets Possible Date For Marijuana Legalization – And A Tax

This is the day marijuana could become legal in NJ. Will it be sold in stores?


By Tom Davis, Patch National Staff
Oct 10, 2018


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NJ Sets Possible Date For Marijuana Legalization – And A Tax

Gov. Phil Murphy and New Jersey lawmakers finally have a date in mind for passing what could be the biggest legislation in years: marijuana legalization. And they want to get it done by Halloween.

But there is one potential stumbling block: a tax. Lawmakers are talking about a pretty hefty tax that they want to impose on the drug once it becomes available commercially.

Murphy and lawmakers say they're looking at Oct 29 as the day the state Legislature should pass a bill legalizing marijuana in New Jersey. It's not clear if the governor would actually sign it that day, or right afterward.

Murphy was asked about marijuana legalization during a recent Facebook live interview, and he told the audience that he's looking at signing something "sooner than later." You can watch him speak about it below.

"We've had good exchanges with both the legislative leadership sponsors and, most importantly, the teams in the trenches crafting this," Murphy said. "I think it's sooner than later."

He also said that, based the tenor of the discussions and the give-and-take between the Murphy administration and lawmakers, Oct. 29 "feels about right."

Murphy said there will be several pieces to the legislation, including expansion of the medical marijuana program. The "biggest mountain to climb," he said, will be legalizing the drug for recreational use.

What could stand in the way is that Democratic leaders in the state Legislature are standing by a 12 percent tax on recreational marijuana. The tax is controversial, and some legislative debate over it could delay the passage date.

Senate President Stephen Sweeney said he'll go no higher than a 12 percent on recreational marijuana, endorsing the rate pushed by state Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Middlesex, Somerset and Union.

Scutari, however, told NJBIZ and other reporters that lawmakers are pushing for tax rates anywhere from 10 percent to 25 percent over a four-year period. Pending legislation on legalization has set the rate at 12 percent.

Sen. Joe Vitale, D-Union, said debates over what agency should regulate marijuana use and the tax rate could easily delay the vote past Oct. 29, according to the report. But top lawmakers say they have their eyes set on Oct. 29.

Murphy said he's a father who "didn't come to this naturally overnight." He believes legalizing marijuana is about social justice.

"Assuming the legislation comes to me in the shape I hope it does, I'll sign that," he said.


Just don't expect pot to be sold in stores right away.

Kate Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington D.C., told nj.com that the regulatory and licensing process could take another six months after the legislation is passed. That schedule could move a lot more quickly if medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed to meet the demand.

Scutari and Sweeney, meanwhile, have introduced two bills that collectively would legalize the recreational use of marijuana in New Jersey and vastly expand access to medical marijuana.

"These two pieces of legislation we introduced represent a concerted effort to put all the options on the table in an efficient, comprehensive manner," said Scutari. "The legislation to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use would eliminate the draconian laws and penalties currently in place and improve social justice issues in urban areas. Law-abiding adults will be able to partake legally and safely knowing exactly what they're ingesting.

The second bill, he said, combines the new recreational marijuana use with measures that expand the existing medical marijuana law to widen its availability so that patients have "unencumbered access to the full spectrum of relief it provides."

"From a health and wellness standpoint, marijuana provides relief from a host of conditions," said Sweeney. "By expanding its accessibility, we help New Jerseyans live life to its fullest. And by legalizing the possession of marijuana, we correct a great social injustice. Persons of color have been routinely targeted for marijuana possession. If we legalize marijuana, we end that practice while creating a mechanism for individuals convicted of low-level marijuana possession to have their records expunged."

One bill, S-2702, would legalize the possession and personal use of marijuana for individuals 21 years of age and up. An individual could possess, use, purchase or transport one ounce or less of marijuana. Additional regulations would apply for marijuana in liquid form, concentrate or infused in other product.

Under that legislation, state would establish a graduated tax rate on marijuana sales to be implemented over several years. Local governments would retain the right to create their own ordinances governing the time, place and manner of sales and they would have 180 days following enactment of the law to prohibit the operation of an establishment to sell marijuana.



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Re: NJ Sets Possible Date For Marijuana Legalization – And A Tax

Post by notsofasteddie » Thu 25th Oct 2018 12:59 am

NJ Sets Yet Another New Timeframe For Legalizing Marijuana

So, will it be available to consumers sooner or later?


By Tom Davis, Patch National Staff
Oct 23, 2018

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Shutterstock photo


Lawmakers say they're no longer targeting Oct. 29 as the date to vote on a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey.

Two top lawmakers, State Senate President Stephen Sweeney and state Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, are now expecting to get something voted on – and passed – by the end of the year, Patch has learned.

The lawmakers apparently still need to iron out their differences with what the Murphy administration wants. It wasn't exactly clear at press time what all those differences were, but Patch has learned that Sweeney and Murphy differ on the amount of the tax. Sweeney has said that the tax should be no more than 12 percent.

Coughlin said during a press conference this week that lawmakers want to make sure they get the legislation "right" before moving forward on it.

"The current system doesn't work because, A, it doesn't prevent eople from using marijuana and, B it has led to a great deal of social injustice," Coughlin said during an interview this week.

There also may not be enough votes.

Assemblyman Ronald Rice, D-Essex, told Patch this week that he's not prepared to support legalization. A former police officer, Rice believes legalization will encourage crime and intoxicated driving. He supports decriminalization instead.

"I think legalization would be a mistake," the Democrat said.

Lawmakers were also starting to hedge their bets this past week now that investigations into an alleged sex assault committed by a former Murphy staffer have been launched.

Lawmakers privately told nj.com they believe it's possible the work required to launch the investigations could push back the marijuana bill vote.

Read more: Yes, NJ Marijuana Legalization Vote Could Be Delayed: Here's Why

Murphy and lawmakers had been looking at Oct 29 as the day the state Legislature should pass a bill legalizing marijuana in New Jersey. It was not clear if the governor would actually sign it that day, or right afterward.

Murphy was asked about marijuana legalization during a recent Facebook live interview, and he told the audience that he's looking at signing something "sooner than later." The governor's office declined to comment on pending legislation.

"We've had good exchanges with both the legislative leadership sponsors and, most importantly, the teams in the trenches crafting this," Murphy said. "I think it's sooner than later."

Murphy said there will be several pieces to the legislation, including expansion of the medical marijuana program. The "biggest mountain to climb," he said, will be legalizing the drug for recreational use.

Just don't expect pot to be sold in stores right away.

Kate Bell, legislative counsel for the Marijuana Policy Project in Washington D.C., told nj.com that the regulatory and licensing process could take another six months after the legislation is passed. That schedule could move a lot more quickly if medical marijuana dispensaries are allowed to meet the demand.


patch.com

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Re: NJ Sets Possible Date For Marijuana Legalization – And A Tax

Post by notsofasteddie » Thu 15th Nov 2018 10:28 pm

Vote on legalizing marijuana in N.J. likely this month, leaders say


By MIKE CATALINI
Thursday, November 15, 2018


ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. --
A vote on legalizing recreational marijuana in the Democrat-led Legislature is coming later this month, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Steve Sweeney said.

The committee votes would inch forward the marijuana legislation that Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy promised during his campaign. But Sweeney and Coughlin did not commit to a final vote, leaving the timeline for one unclear.

Coughlin and Sweeney spoke Wednesday at the state League of Municipalities' annual conference in Atlantic City, Coughlin said he had the votes in committee to pass the legislation. Sweeney echoed that timeline as well but said he will need help from Murphy to get the votes to pass the measure, which has been stalled in the Legislature.

"The only way something like this gets passed legislatively is if all three of us work together," Sweeney said. "If (the governor's office is) not going to lobby any votes for us then it won't get done."

Murphy's chief of staff Pete Cammarano said that tax rates are slowing progress and the administration couldn't ask lawmakers to support a bill they hadn't seen. Now that the bill is in front of Murphy's administration, Cammarano said they are reviewing next steps. He said tax rates could be negotiated, and also cited a paid regulatory commission that the governor had reservations about.

Polls indicate that the public largely supports recreational legalization, but attendees at the conference voiced opposition.

In particular, attendees raised concerns over how marijuana legalization could affect the opioid epidemic in the state, and whether police will have the resources to handle it.

Lisa DiGiulio, a former councilwoman from Mahwah, appealed to legislators not to approve recreational marijuana. She said in apparent hyperbole that her sister had lived in Colorado and got "stoned" by simply walking down the street.

"I kind of think you're stoned anyway," she told the panel of lawmakers.

In response, Sweeney cited public surveys that show support for legalization. He said the reason lawmakers are pursuing a bill instead of a constitutional amendment is that a law makes it easier for lawmakers to make adjustments. A constitutional amendment would require repeatedly going to the voters at the ballot box for changes, Sweeney said.

Michigan voters this month approved recreational marijuana at the ballot, becoming the 10th state along with the District of Columbia to legalize cannabis.


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Re: NJ Sets Possible Date For Marijuana Legalization – And A Tax

Post by notsofasteddie » Thu 22nd Nov 2018 03:00 pm

New Bill Would Legalize Cannabis in New Jersey


Ben Adlin
November 21, 2018


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Lawmakers across the Northeast watched closely this week as adult-use sales kicked off in Massachusetts. Judging from their reactions, it seems Massachusetts won’t be alone for long.

As the East Coast’s first stores prepared to open, neighboring Vermont—which legalized possession and personal cultivation in January but still prohibits retail sales—moved forward on a plan to open a legal, regulated cannabis market in the state.

In Connecticut, Gov.-elect Ned Lamont announced that adult-use legalization will be a priority for his incoming administration. “It’s something I would support,” he said at a press conference Monday. “Canada, Massachusetts, others are doing it.”

Even a number of federal lawmakers took note, including US Rep. Joe Kennedy (D-MA), a longtime skeptic of legalization. On Tuesday, he joined a growing group of congressional representatives calling for cannabis to be legalized at the federal level. “My concerns about the public health impact of marijuana remain,” he wrote in the Boston-based medical publication STAT. “But it has become clear that prohibition has wholly failed to address them.”

Perhaps the most concrete action by a neighboring state during the Massachusetts hubbub, however, took place in New Jersey, where lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled a legalization bill. Gov. Phil Murphy has yet to respond, but last month he told constituents the state could see legalization happen “sooner than later.”

Democratic leaders in the state have reportedly been negotiating behind closed doors for months to develop the legislation, dubbed the “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act.” But now that the bill has been introduced, NJ.com reports, lawmakers will get right to it—the first hearings are set to begin Monday morning at 10 a.m.

What It Would Do

Coming in at 147 pages, New Jersey’s latest legalization bill (S2730) is no lightweight. But at its core, it would set up a system that resembles those already operating in adult-use cannabis states such as California or Massachusetts.

Some highlights:

•The bill would legalize possession and personal use of an ounce or less of cannabis by adults 21 or older.

•Retail sales would be regulated and taxed at 12% plus an additional 2% local excise tax.

•Delivery services would be permitted.

•With local permission, retailers could establish public consumption lounges for customers to consume their purchases onsite.

•People who have prior low-level cannabis arrests or convictions would have their records expunged under an expedited system to be set up by the Administrative Office of the Courts.

•Most licensed cannabis businesses would be required to hire workers represented by public labor unions. (Smaller “micro-businesses” would be exempt.)

•A five-person Cannabis Regulatory Commission would oversee nearly all elements of the newly legal industry. Members would be appointed by the governor and the state

•The commission would administer an equity-focused system through a newly established Office of Minority, Disabled Veterans, and Women Cannabis Business Development aimed at promoting entrepreneurship among those communities.

•Licensing priority would be given to applicants whose businesses are located in so-called impact zones “for which past criminal marijuana enterprises contributed to higher concentrations of law enforcement activity, unemployment, and poverty.” Essentially, the provision attempts to mitigate past impacts of the drug war.

A handful of other legislation is also in the pipeline in New Jersey. A forthcoming companion bill to the legalization measure is expected to further flesh out the planned expungement process for low-level cannabis crimes. And two separate medical cannabis bills, S10 and S2426, are also scheduled to be heard in committee Monday.

S10 would increase the monthly limit for medical cannabis patients to three ounces per patient, allow patients to visit any in-state dispensary, and permit the purchase of edible cannabis products.

S2426 would require the state Health Department to issue licenses for 34 new dispensaries and six new cultivation facilities within 90 days.

New Jersey’s legalization movement for years struggled to make headway under former Gov. Chris Christie, a medical cannabis skeptic and staunch opponent of adult-use legalization. With a new administration, a refreshed Legislature, and a front-row seat to legalization in Massachusetts, state leaders appear ready to pick up the pace.



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Re: NJ Sets Possible Date For Marijuana Legalization – And A Tax

Post by notsofasteddie » Sun 25th Nov 2018 02:10 am

New Jersey lawmakers unveil legislation proposing legalization of marijuana


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(Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)


Posted: Nov 22 2018 07:43AM EST


TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled their latest proposal to legalize recreational marijuana for people 21 and over.

A joint Democrat-led Assembly and Senate committee is expected to discuss the measures Monday.

It's the latest draft in a long-running effort to legalize recreational cannabis in New Jersey, where despite support from Democratic leaders, including Gov. Phil Murphy, the effort has stalled.

The measure allows for legalizing an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older - similar to previous drafts.

Changes in the new bill include a 12 percent tax rate on cannabis. Previous version of the bill included a phased-in rate that climbed from 7 percent to 25 percent.

The 12 percent rate includes the 6.625 percent sales tax, according to the draft released Wednesday. The proposal also permits local governments to apply up to a 2 percent tax on cannabis.

The measure also sets up a five-person cannabis commission charged with regulating the substance.

The members would be full time and receive a $125,000 per year salary, while the chairman would get up to $141,000 annually.

The members would serve for five-year terms and would be appointed by the governor, with approval from the state Senate. Two members would be appointed on the recommendation of the Senate president and Assembly speaker.

The legislation calls for expediting expungements for people with marijuana-related criminal backgrounds.

Murphy supports legalization, but his office didn't respond to the new legislation Wednesday.

His office had earlier said the tax rates could be negotiated but also cited the regulatory commission as a sticking point.

Ten states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis.



fox29.com

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