Volume 7/Issue 9

  • NJ's Great Marijuana Debate Starts Today

NJ's Great Marijuana Debate Starts Today

Senator Scutari’s much anticipated legislation jumpstarts the discussion of what the recreational cannabis industry could look like in the Garden State. Noting national approval ratings for the legalization of marijuana at over 60 percent, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Nicolas P. Scutari introduced legislation today that would create a recreational marijuana program in New Jersey that would provide for the licensure of marijuana cultivation, manufacturing, wholesale and retail facilities.

 “Across the country, states have successfully implemented recreational marijuana laws and its time that we began shaping our own program in New Jersey. This bill will create a strictly regulated system that permits adults to purchase limited amount of marijuana for personal use. It will bring marijuana out of the underground market there it can be controlled, regulated and taxed, just as alcohol has been for decades,” said Scutari.

Specifically, Scutari’s bill would:

  • Permit the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana infused product in solid form, 72 ounces in liquid form and 7 grams of concentrate.
  • Prohibit growing marijuana plants at home and consumption of marijuana openly or in a public place.
  • Establish the Division of Marijuana enforcement in the Department of Law and Public Safety that would be charged with regulating the industry under the strict guidelines provided for in the enabling legislation.
  • Give municipalities the ability to govern or prohibit operation of marijuana establishments.
  • Provide tax-based incentives for municipalities that permit the development and operation of marijuana establishments.
  • Decriminalize the possession of up to 50 grams of marijuana upon enactment but before implementation, limiting fine to $100 and permit expungement of certain marijuana-related charges.

While Governor Christie is firmly opposed to any effort to legalize marijuana, many industry advocates see potential to move the issue forward during the next administration. All of the leading Democratic candidates for governor have stated their support for legalization while the leading Republican candidates have expressed their preference for decriminalizing rather than legalizing marijuana. 

Senator Scutari plans on holding hearings on the bill this year and his goal to get the bill signed within the first one hundred days of the next governor’s administration.  He would like New Jersey to be the second state to legislatively pass a marijuana legalization bill into law.

He plans to use the months leading up to the next administration to secure co-sponsors and build support for the legislation amongst his colleagues in the state senate and general assembly.