A day that was being touted as monumental in New Jersey history will again be a footnote, as a vote in the Senate to legalize marijuana has been tabled due to lack of support. Senate President Steve Sweeney, who backs the measure along with other party leaders and Gov. Phil. Murphy, notes the fight will go on.
The March 25 vote was supposed to bring the state into a growing camaraderie that involves 33 states with medical marijuana legalized and 10 states that have moved to legalize recreational use of the drug.
However, while Sweeney says the vote was close, the 22-vote margin for success was just not available for the vote at the time.
The bill lays out the following provisions: a five-member regulatory commission will be in charge of handling oversight of marijuana production and sales, a $42 per ounce tax will be imposed, municipalities that host retail locations can impose their own tax, up to 3%, and individuals with charges related to marijuana possession will see them expunged. The records expunged will include those who had as much as five pounds of marijuana in their possession, a move intended to expedite the process.
Money from the marijuana taxes will be earmarked for development and regulations as well as enforcement of cannabis activity. Further research into cannabis and its effect on drivers and funding for experts in recognizing cannabis impairment are also on the list for receiving tax funds.
There is no word on when the Senate will attempt another vote. Meanwhile, the Assembly was also scheduled to take a vote Monday. Their next attempt is also to be determined.