Despite Governor Chris Christie’s opposition, recreational marijuana could be coming to New Jersey.
Medical marijuana was signed into law by outgoing New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine at the end of his term. Current Governor, Chris Christie, has been vocal in his opposition to medical marijuana and expanding legalization further.
Some New Jersey Lawmakers are eying the end of Christie’s term in January. Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) has introduced S3195, a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana use in the Garden State. He seems intent on getting the ball rolling before Christie is even out of office.
“Now is the time to begin shaping New Jersey’s recreational marijuana program,” Scutari said according to NJ.com. “We will have a new governor next year and we should be prepared to move forward with a program that ends the prohibition on marijuana and that treats our residents fairly and humanely.”
If passed, S3195 would:
- Decriminalize up to 50 grams of marijuana possession “immediately” while allowing those have been arrested for marijuana possession to expunge their records;
- Create a Division of Marijuana Enforcement in the state Attorney General’s Office. The AG’s office would draft the rules used to oversee legal growers and sellers;
- Allow people to possess up to one ounce of dried marijuana, 16 ounces of edible products infused with cannabis, 72 ounces in liquid form and seven grams of marijuana “concentrate;
- Establish a sales tax on recreational sales beginning at 7 percent in the first year, then rising to 10 percent in the second year and then increasing five percent more each year until it reaches 25 percent. Medical marijuana taxes would be eliminated
- Provide the five current medical marijuana dispensary, nonprofit groups, the chance at selling recreational marijuana
The issue could be a hot topic during the governor’s race. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, supports legalization while Republican candidate Kim Guadagno is not in favor.
New Jersey has not had its best economic years under the Christie administration. Politico reports that New Jersey has had the eighth worst recovery after the 2008 Great Recession. Additional revenues, jobs, public services, and criminal justice reform measures that could be generated under S3195 could be appealing to voters.