It is highly likely that a number of states will attempt to jump on the bandwagon over the next couple of years and legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. New Jersey, which is currently governed by anti-drug warrior Chris Christie, is undoubtedly expected to be the main focal point of the legalization debate heading into 2018.
In fact, State Senator Nicholas Scutari, chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, recently introduced a piece of legislation aimed at establishing a statewide cannabis trade. The proposal, which is designed to give adults 21 and over the freedom to purchase marijuana in a manner similar to beer, will begin shaping “New Jersey’s legal recreational marijuana program for years to come,” Scutari wrote in a special guest column for the Star Ledger.
While some might consider this attempt a long shot, especially since Governor Christie has been such an ardent opposing force for the past several years, lawmakers feel confident they can get this thing done once a new fearless leader is in place – and that is happening soon.
As it stands, front running Democratic favorite Phil Murphy has said that he would support a measure to legalize marijuana if he is elected, while the likely Republican candidate, New Jersey Lieutenant Governor Kim Guadagno, has not really given any indication where she stands. Nevertheless, the new governor will be elected this November, pushing Christie out of office as of January of next year.
According to the language of Scutari’s bill, adults 21 and over would have the freedom to purchase pot products from retail outlets all over the state, similarly to how they do now with alcohol. It would allow these people to be in possession of up to an ounce of flower, 16 ounces of edibles, 72 ounces of tinctures, and up to 7 grams of concentrates.
Unfortunately, the proposal does not come with a home cultivation provision, which is unlike any other state that has legalized marijuana in this fashion. People are typically allowed to grow at least a couple of plants at home for personal use. However, apparently, Scutari does not want to miss out on a single cent of tax revenue. The lawmaker predicts legal marijuana could bring the state around $300 million per year in new tax dollars.
Although there is absolutely no chance that Governor Christie would ever sign a bill legalizing marijuana, Scutari believes “we have to get the ball rolling and educate the legislators” if we want to ensure the issue is taken seriously when it comes time to roll up our sleeves next year.
“We’ve got to work it so it will be ready for a new administration come January,” he told NJ Advance Media.