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November 09, 2015

New Jersey lawmakers to hold hearing on marijuana legalization

The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing Monday to receive testimony regarding the legalization of recreational marijuana use.

Sen. Nicholas Scutari, the committee chairman, introduced legislation to legalize marijuana early last year, but the bill has not moved beyond the committee. A companion bill introduced in the Assembly also has not passed its committee.

Scutari told The Associated Press on Monday that the Senate Judiciary Committee will hear testimony from clergy, health professionals and law enforcement officials, among others.

"There is no question that we need to update our archaic drug laws in this country and the majority of people support regulating, taxing and legalizing marijuana," Scutari said.

Recreational marijuana use has been legalized in Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Twenty-three states, including New Jersey, have legalized medical marijuana, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Support for marijuana legalization has grown in New Jersey, according to a Fairleigh Dickinson University poll released in June. A statewide survey of registered voters found 49 percent favored legalization, an eight-point increase since the question was last posed in January 2014.

However, the legislation seems unlikely to pass before the two-year legislative session concludes.

The hearing will be held at 1 p.m. Monday in Committee Room 4 at the State House Annex in Trenton.