November 26, 2018
In their first official action toward approval of recreational marijuana, New Jersey lawmakers advanced a bill in the state Senate and Assembly that could legalize pot by January.
Committees from both legislative bodies approved the bill after hours of debate in a hearing on Monday. Now, the bill will go to a full vote in the legislature (which could come as soon as next month) before Gov. Phil Murphy will have the chance to sign it into law.
The bill proposes legalization for any adult 21 and older with possession of up to one ounce and would impose a 12 percent tax on the industry statewide. Towns that host cannabis businesses would also absorb an extra 2 percent excise tax, according to NJ.com.
Legislators have been confident Murphy will sign on to a legalization bill, as the movement helped propel him into office in January. But NJ.com reported the governor has reportedly asked for a 25 percent tax rate, while the current bill only calls for 12.
Murphy has yet to formally comment on the bill's advancement.
Below is video from the hearing.
An important facet to the bill is that it will speed up the expungement process for people who have prior arrests and convictions for possession or distributing the drug, NJ.com reported.
If the bill passes, the Administrative Office of the Courts must also create an digital reporting system for expedited expungements within six months of the law's enactment.