After a head-to-head race to the legalization finish line with neighbor New York, it looked like New Jersey was going to get there first. Their historic vote was scheduled for this morning, but was canceled last minute.
The New Jersey Senate and Assembly were supposed to vote on the legislation today, but those plans have been canceled. Lawmakers needed 21 votes in the Senate to pass the bill and reportedly only secured 18, so they canceled the vote altogether. It’s likely another vote on adult-use legislation won’t happen for months.
Let’s take a look at what the New Jersey marijuana legalization bill would’ve done
What Exactly Does the Bill Say?
New Jersey’s marijuana legalization bill went through tons of changes and drafts. It’s very thorough but will still likely go through more changes and edits if legalization becomes a reality. Here are some highlights:
Expunging Marijuana Convictions
Record expungement has been a hot topic for states writing legalization bills. With so much discussion about the damage done to communities of color because of the war on drugs, New Jersey’s bill would allow for people with marijuana-related convictions to get their records expunged quickly.
Local Municipality Power
As we’ve seen many states struggled with it before, New Jersey plan would allow local municipalities to prohibit cannabis businesses from opening and allow caps on how many cannabis businesses could operate within the city limits.
New Jersey’s bill also would’ve allowed for marijuana delivery to individuals who do not reside on federal land. The deliveries would have to be made by real humans, though; no drones.
Lawmakers went back and forth on what the marijuana tax would look like, and then eventually settled on a flat rate of $42 per ounce.
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While most other states only allow for the consumption of marijuana in private residences, New Jersey would allow marijuana consumption areas. Local municipalities have to agree to allow them and they must be owned by and operated in the same place as a dispensary.
Like other legal markets, New Jersey regulations stipulate that all marijuana would need to be packaged in opaque, child-proof packaging, have a scannable tracking stamp, labels warning about use and misuse, THC amounts, growth method, and pesticide use.
When Will Recreational Weed Be for Sale?
The bill tasks regulators with establishing rules within 6 months of passage, but marijuana likely won’t be for sale for another year. The existing New Jersey medical marijuana dispensaries would likely be the first shops able to sell recreational marijuana.
New York Didn’t Make It
To all of us watching from the outside, it seemed like New York was going to get there first. Governor Cuomo was very vocal in his support for pushing marijuana legalization through, but he’s facing roadblocks. It looked like New Jersey was going to get it done today but the votes just weren’t there. Lots of states on the East Coast have been considering adult-use legalization since Massachusetts legalized. Connecticut is the next East Coast state we’re watching.