The Northeast is booming with the legalization of marijuana as of recently. During this time, the state of New Jersey put itself on road to becoming the 11th state to legalize it for recreational use. The state proposed the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act. After months of debating, the bill was set to finally receive a vote. Despite the efforts taken to pass the bill, Democratic lawmakers canceled the legalization vote on Monday, March 25. The vote was postponed to an unknown future date.
Both mayors from Newark and Jersey City said that marijuana is “the most important controversial policy issue of our time.” The proposed Act had 3 bills in total, all of which related to marijuana issues within the state. The Act had several main points:
- Legalizing possession of up to one ounce of marijuana
- Larger possessions of marijuana would become a disorderly persons offense
- The creation of a new cannabis industry, allowing for weed dispensaries and license for individuals to produce, distribute, and sell marijuana products
- Tax marijuana at a flat rate of $42 per ounce
- Expedite expungements of marijuana offenses.
In order for the Act to pass in the Senate, it needed a total of 21 votes. Several legislators had high hopes for the bill and believed that its passing would send a good message about legalizing marijuana throughout the country. Polls also showed that many New Jersey residents supported legalizing marijuana as well.
Despite the support from believers of legalization, many other legislators did not share the same sentiment. They did not believe the legalization of marijuana would be good for the state and pushed back on passing the Act. Senate members argued over the potential influence it would have if marijuana was legalized in New Jersey. Concerns were raised regarding the increase of crime in urban areas, driving under the influence, keeping drugs away from kids, and the impact it could have on public health. The vote passed through the Assembly Appropriations and the Senate Judiciary Committees last week, but only 17 or 18 Senate members agreed to vote yes during the next stage. This left the bill about 4 votes shy of passing.
While the vote has been postponed, Senate members are still hopeful for the future of legalization. Democratic Governor Phil Murphy believes “Justice may be delayed, but justice will not be denied.” Senate President Steve Sweeney also acknowledged his plans to move forward with the bill by saying, “We’ll be back at this … Anybody who thinks this is dead is wrong.”
Our firm proudly represents clients in New Jersey who are faced with matters of family law, criminal defense, business law, real estate law, or estate planning. If you require strong and dedicated representation for any of your legal matters, contact The Law Offices of George J. Mardinly to schedule a consultation