New Jersey took another major step Monday toward legalizing recreational marijuana when Senate and Assembly committees approved an identical measure and sent it to the full Legislature for a vote.
The approvals by the Assembly Appropriations and Senate Judiciary committees set up a floor vote as soon as March 25.
A bill reached a similar stage late last year in New Jersey but stalled mainly over a disagreement between Gov. Phil Murphy and key legislative leaders over how marijuana should be taxed.
Last week, Murphy, a Democrat, and the legislative leaders formally announced an agreement to impose a state excise tax of $42 an ounce on marijuana products.
It’s unclear whether enough support exists in the Democratic-controlled Legislature to pass the latest version.
Murphy reportedly has started calling lawmakers in efforts to raise enough votes to pass the measure, according to NJ Advance Media.
The votes Monday were delayed by several hours as lawmakers hashed out last-minute amendments to the measure behind closed doors.
The New Jersey bill would legalize the possession, use and purchase of up to an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older.
Additional details of the measure include:
- Creation of a five-member Cannabis Control Commission that would issue marijuana licenses based on market demand.
- Conditional licenses that would allow time for potential license holders to find financing for their projects.
- Right of local jurisdictions to ban MJ businesses.
- Provisions to encourage minorities, women, disabled veterans and small businesses in the cannabis industry.
- Allowing cannabis delivery services.
- Permitting municipalities to collect up to a 3% tax from cannabis retailers in their jurisdiction, 2% from growers and processors and 1% from wholesalers.
Jeff Smith can be reached at [email protected]