New Jersey officials are getting ready to present two weed-related bills to the Murphy administration, and then later introduce them to the Legislature and schedule hearings.
A group of some of the most powerful politicians in New Jersey has come together to work on two separate marijuana bills, one for medical marijuana and one recreational legalization.
If these bills satisfy Gov. Phil Murphy and win support from the majority of the Legislature, New Jersey might have one of the most liberal weed systems in place among all other 30 states that already legalized cannabis.
However, nothing is certain yet because both bills are still waiting for approval by the hand of Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Senate.
“Everything is a guessing game because leadership still has to get the votes,” said Assemblyman Joseph Danielsen, who has helped draft the bill. “There are a lot of moving parts.”
If the planned framework is passed in its current form, New Jersey should have one of the best systems in place when compared to the likes of other, such as Oregon, which many are by now calling a fluke.
People-focused programs for the people
One of the major points of these two bills will be the fact that they revolve around the people in the small state, and not around big corporations and companies trying to squeeze every cent from the government.
The officials in New Jersey promised to put together these bills in order to ease the access to medical marijuana patients, and remove restraints on recreational marijuana for all those that are already engaged or plan to be engaged on the legal market.
This means that the end users will have a much easier access to regulated and legal cannabis, but also many other benefits that they wouldn’t have if these two bills weren’t introduced.
One such benefit is the expungements which will be awarded to all those with lower-level marijuana convictions in the state if they apply for them.
Sen. Nicholas Scutari, who is the prime sponsor of this bill, said that it will call for momentary expungement of simple cannabis possession cases.
Senator Scutari also added that Assemblyman Jamel Holley and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano are writing a follow-up bill that helps expedite the expungements.
Another focal point of both bills is that, if they pass in this form, New Jersey will be one of four states in which delivery of cannabis will be legal.
At this point in time, only California, Nevada and Oregon are allowing for the delivery of cannabis products, even though 26 more states and Washington D.C. that have separate programs.
The idea to introduce this measure in New Jersey stemmed from Governor Murphy who earlier suggested that the medical program allows for delivery in order to increase the access to patients.
After some thinking, the legislators decided that it might be better to introduce it in both bills as a way to increase access and create jobs as well.
State Senator Joe Vitale said that the latest version of the recreational marijuana bill that was introduced this spring capped the number of marijuana dispensaries at 120, but that decision was overruled and the new bill will allow for regulators to decide how many licenses will be issued.
The bill is expected to make micro-licenses available to businesses in the New Jersey, which would allow for small-scale growing operations and significantly boost the profile of small businesses in the state.
These licenses are meant to give small-time producers a chance to compete in the New Jersey market since at least 10% of all licenses issued are to be micro-licenses.
Another important thing to note is that at least a quarter of the licenses will be awarded to businesses owned by women, minorities or veterans in order to help them get in on the new industry.
The only question which is left up for debate is the question of taxation, and how many different taxes should be applied to such a product.
So far, we know with fair certainty that the people will pay sales tax and an excise tax on marijuana purchases, but the question of the state tax is still to be decided.
In the past, a tax rate of between 15 and 25 percent was floated as a general idea, so it is most likely that cannabis taxes will end up somewhere in that range.
Municipalities will have a chance to add up to 2% on that number. Senator Scutari thinks that this will implore the municipal leaders to accept cannabis in all areas of the state.