Cannabis Referendum Resolution Passes

The Freeholder fight unites more than it delights.

The Assembly this evening passed ACR840, which proposes a constitutional amendment to legalize Cannabis for personal, non-medical use by adults who are 21 years of age or older.

The vote was 49-24-1.

A senate version of the resolution passed by a vote of 24-16.

The measure is sponsored by Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano, Jamel Holley, Britnee N. Timberlake and Angela McKnight.

“I became interested in legalization due to the inequalities in the enforcement of cannabis laws and their long term impacts on the lives of all people in this state, but considerably those of color,” said Quijano. “I believe, with this constitutional amendment, we have listened to the will of the majority of New Jerseyans and taken a common-sense approach to regulation of cannabis. This is a new arena for New Jersey law and one that we hope will protect citizens, support communities and create a new economic driver for the state.”

Holley
Holley

“A key component to cannabis legalization was addressing social justice concerns. The fact that Black New Jerseyans are 3 or 4 times more likely to be arrested on cannabis charges has contributed to the disenfranchisement of black communities,” said Holley. “Should voters approve this constitutional amendment at the ballot box in November of 2020, there would unprecedented opportunity for residents to clean the slate with expungement provisions and for communities to grow their economic base with businesses. This is a long time coming.”

“I believe the public recognizes that ‘marijuana prohibition’ has failed and they will support legalization for adults,” said Senator Nick Scutari (D-20), who also authored the law creating New Jersey’s medical marijuana program. “We can do away with the laws that fall the hardest on minorities and create a regulatory system that ensures the safe use of cannabis products by adults.”

“Legalization is a significant step in public policy that will have a real-life impact on social justice, law enforcement and the lives of people in communities throughout New Jersey,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-3). “With the public’s approval, we will be able to move forward to correct social and legal injustices that have had a discriminatory impact on communities of color at the same time marijuana is regulated and made safe and legal for adults.”

On the Resolution:

When this proposed amendment to the Constitution is finally agreed to pursuant to Article IX, paragraph 1 of the Constitution, it shall be submitted to the people at the next general election occurring more than three months after the final agreement and shall be published at least once in at least one newspaper of each county designated by the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly and the Secretary of State, not less than three months prior to the general election.

Proposed ballot question in the resolution.
Proposed ballot question in the resolution.

According to the resolution, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission, created by P.L.2019, c.153 (C.24:6I-5.1 et al.) to oversee the State’s medical cannabis program, primarily set forth in the “Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act,” P.L.2009, c.307 (C.24:6I-1 et al.) (or any successor to that commission), would also oversee the new personal use market.  The scope of the commission’s regulatory authority would be established in law by the Legislature.

As set forth in the proposed amendment, the term “cannabis” would not include: “cannabis dispensed and consumed for medical purposes pursuant to any law enacted by the Legislature; hemp or hemp products subject to regulation under the ‘New Jersey Hemp Farming Act,’ P.L.2019, c.238 (C.4:28-6 et al.), or any successor enactment thereto; or unregulated cannabis, referred to as marijuana, and products created from or which include marijuana.”  Passage of the amendment would not affect the State’s regulation of medical cannabis and hemp, and unregulated marijuana would remain illegal under the State’s laws.

The amendment provides that all receipts from the retail purchases of cannabis or products created from or which include cannabis would only be subject to the tax imposed under the “Sales and Use Tax Act,” P.L.1966, c.30 (C.54:32B-1 et seq.) (or a subsequent enactment of similar effect); provided, however, that a municipality, subject to authorization by law enacted by the Legislature, may adopt an ordinance to impose an additional municipal tax on the sale, or any other form of transfer, of cannabis or products created from or which include cannabis by an authorized party located in a municipality.  The municipal tax rate could not exceed two percent of the receipts from each sale of cannabis or products created from or which include cannabis by an authorized party or the equivalent value from any other form of transfer by an authorized party.

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