Friday, February 3, 2023

New Jersey’s New Adult-Use Cannabis Bill Just Might Pass

In January of this year, Phil Murphy became governor of New Jersey for a slew of reasons, not the least of which was his promise to legalize weed in the Garden State within his first 100 days in office. That benchmark has come and gone, but lawmakers continue to work on it and now a new legalization bill is finished, polished and ready for possible implementation.

The new bill calls for the lowest proposed cannabis taxes in the U.S., marijuana delivery services and locations for imbibers to toke, other than in the privacy of their own homes. The law will be for adults 21 and over and will tax and regulate the plant. That low tax is big news, though, written in at a mere 10 percent.

Marijuana retailers would be able to apply for commercial “consumption” spaces as well, so social lounges, cannabis themed coffee shops, spas and maybe even restaurants could be coming soon to New Jersey. With provisions as liberal as these, Jersey could be raking in the bucks, even with the lower taxes. Atlantic City and the infamous Jersey Shore still draw, but cannabis can be a louder tourism boost in today’s age. 

Though the bill doesn’t yet outline how many cannabis licenses can be issued, it does say that 25 percent of said licenses will go to minorities, women and veterans. This is in keeping with the focus on social justice that is so important to Gov. Murphy. Getting rid of arrest disparities in the minority population, lifting up gender equality and a having a deep appreciation for those who served also helped him to win his gubernatorial bid.

Another standout in this newest bill will be the concocting of a five-person Cannabis Regulatory Commission, which would basically be making the rules as they go along. The five members would be governor appointed; three with consent from the Senate, one with consent from the Senate president, and one with consent from the Assembly speaker.

Though Senate President Stephen Sweeney told NJ Advance Media that the bill is unlikely to pass before October, that’s still an encouraging statement for cannabis pioneers across the state and nation. Having Jersey turn a deeper shade of green will put even more pressure on New York to do the same. Plus, many New Jersey residents would have a shot at benefiting fiscally. Ten percent of licenses issued will be “micro-licenses,” meaning small businesses can get in the game, too.



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