New Jersey lawmakers are considering a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana use.
The bill (A4193) was introduced by State Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-NJ). If enacted, Carroll’s bill would even allow for marijuana to be sold and distributed in convenience stores and gas stations.
Carrol described his view on legal marijuana to Politico:
“To me it’s just not a big deal. It’s already ubiquitous. Anybody who thinks this is somehow going to increase the availability of marijuana has never been 19. If that’s the case, then what’s the big deal about having it available at the local 7-Eleven?
The whole point here is to get the government out of the business of treating marijuana use as a crime and treat it instead as a social problem.”
Bill A4193 would permit individuals age 19 and over to legally purchase marijuana and would place no limits on possession amounts. The bill would allow for individuals with marijuana-related charges to have them expunged from their records.
As is the case regarding alcohol and cigarette sales, stores would face civil penalties if they were caught selling marijuana to anyone under the age of 19.
New Jersey has recently expanded the state’s medical marijuana program to include PTSD as a qualifying condition. Further expansion may be difficult for the time being under the current political climate.
Medical marijuana was signed into law by outgoing former Governor John Corzine. Current Governor Chris Christie has been a vocal opponent of recreational marijuana and would almost surely veto the bill. New Jersey lawmakers may be looking toward the next governor as Christie’s term will end on January 16, 2018.
State Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-NJ) introduced bill A2068 in 2014. The bill also called for legalizing the recreational use of marijuana but was more restrictive and included far more specifics. Residents would only have been able to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and grow no more than three plants.
Although the progressive Gusciora and conservative Carroll are on opposite sides of the political spectrum, there seems to be optimism about working together on this issue.
“We would like to get the ball rolling, even with this governor and even if he vetoes it, the choice then could be made to put it on the ballot through the Legislature or set the groundwork for the next administration,” Gusciora said. “I think it’s only a matter of time.”