New Jersey legislators unveiled the newest proposal to legalize marijuana in the state. The draft of new legislation will allow adults over the age of 21 to possess and use an ounce of marijuana for recreational use, a goal Gov. Phil Murphy set for the state by the end of 2018.
The proposal includes a 12% tax rate for cannabis, compared to earlier drafts that included a 7% rate and a 25% rate. With this draft, local governments can also impose a 2% tax rate of their own.
Previously, Gov. Murphy has spoken out against a 10% tax rate, leaving his response to the current proposed rate uncertain.
A commission made up of five people will be tasked with regulating marijuana for the state, maintaining the position as a full-time job with an annual salary of $125,000. The chairman, meanwhile, may earn up to $141,000 for the year.
Each member of the commission would serve for five years, and the governor would appoint them while two would be appointed based on recommendation of the Senate president and Assembly speaker.
The newest legislation is called the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act, which has been a hot button topic for Democrats in the state in recent months. Rumours abound that numerous negotiations regarding this legislation occurred behind closed doors as legislators worked to satisfy Gov. Murphy’s goal of legalization of recreational use sooner rather than later.
Delivery of marijuana will be permitted under this new legislation, as the creation of public consumption lounges, provided the local governing body provides permission for the lounge.
Meanwhile, the legislation will expunge the records of individuals with prior low-level arrests and convictions related to marijuana. The system for this expungement will be an expedited version and will be set up by the Administrative Office of the Courts, per language outlined in the legislation.
The proposal is 147 pages long, and thus far, the Governor’s office has not issued a response. Meanwhile, two medical cannabis bills will be heard on Monday and a companion bill to this proposed legislation is already planned for the future.
The medical cannabis bills are focused on expanding the allowable amount for possession by medical patients to three ounces and also in creating new licenses for 34 new dispensaries and six new cultivation centres.