New Jersey Governor Murphy Signs Bills Legalizing Cannabis
TRENTON – Gov. Phil Murphy signed three bills today that together legalize cannabis in New Jersey and put an end to thousands of arrests.
Finally, New Jersey’s legal cannabis marketplace will be launched and the cannabis business community in New Jersey are ready to take advantage of the opportunities in the burgeoning billion-dollar industry. It’s been a saga, years of failed legislative attempts, despite 2.7 million votes in favor led to months of negotiations on the new law. The negotiations were mostly on tax revenue, licensing rules and penalties for those under 21 caught with cannabis.
“The enactment of these laws is long overdue,” said Carly Wolf of NORML. “Going forward, tens of thousands of otherwise law-abiding New Jerseyans will no longer be subject to arrest and a criminal record for their personal use of marijuana.”
Here are New Jersey’s three new cannabis laws, effective immediately, and what they mean:
- New Jersey adults may legally purchase and possess up to one ounce of marijuana.
- Criminal penalties will be reduced for those found with larger quantities (distribution of more than one ounce but less than five pounds).
- Retail marijuana sales are subject to state sales tax, and seventy percent of that tax revenue will be given to lower-income communities.
- A New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission will be established and will oversee the applications for licensing of cannabis businesses.
- New Jersey will give out licenses to 37 marijuana growers for the first two years. The ACLU criticized this, saying there was no need to cap it at 37. They also said they’ll continue to push for home grow, which will not be legal in New Jersey.
- New Jersey’s existing medical pot shops will be among those eligible to sell to the public, another thing the ACLU said was an unfair advantage.
- For those already charged with marijuana, the bill also creates an immediate pathway to vacate active sentences. Pending marijuana charges and cases will also be dismissed.
- Those under 21 found with weed will be given a series of written warnings, rather than criminal penalties or fines. Third-time juvenile offenders could receive community service.
- The law also restricts police from conducting searches of juveniles based solely on the odor of marijuana.
There is still some teething pains with the new law. The police union in New Jersey declared in a Facebook statement Monday, warning police the new law “dangerously ties your hands.”
“Although this process has taken longer than anticipated, I believe it is ending in the right place and will ultimately serve as a national model,” said Murphy. “I’m grateful to all our legislative members who kept working and talking even when things ground to a halt. Especially the legislative Black and Hispanic caucuses and their chairs.”
For full details of the New Jersey’s governor’s action click here
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