Less than a week ago, residents on the East Coast celebrated the opening of the first two marijuana shops in Massachusetts. Now it looks like they may have some company, as New Jersey is set reportedly set to follow in their footsteps.
According to Rolling Stone, lawmakers in the Garden State are preparing a bill that would legalize recreational use as early as January 2019. The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act would permit adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana. A public hearing for the bill opened on Monday, Nov. 26.
New Jersey is led by democratic governor Phil Murphy, who was elected in 2017, and the bill is likely to be on his desk for signing by the start of the new year. However, legislators are still ironing out some of the finer details of the bill, which include the proposed tax rate on marijuana and regulatory power.
In addition to possession, the bill also allows cannabis delivery services and gives licensed dispensaries the ability open public “consumption areas.” The law will also set a framework for expunging the records of people with marijuana convictions and arrests.
Despite the discrepancies over the 12 percent tax rate and a possible Cannabis Regulatory Commission, the bill is “98 percent” there, according to New Jersey Senate President Stephen Sweeney. "We’ve talked about this for too long, and we’re ready to start the process,” he said.
If the bill passes, New Jersey will become the eighth state to legalize cannabis.