Senate Judiciary Committee Moves Bill to Legalize Marijuana
On the heels of a public thumbs up to a ballot question on the issue, the Senate Judiciary Committee today moved S-21, the “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act”, which legalizes personal use cannabis for certain adults, subject to regulation by Cannabis Regulatory Commission; removes marijuana as Schedule I drug.
“The public recognizes that ‘marijuana prohibition’ has been a failed policy,” said Senator Scutari (D-Union), who also authored the law creating New Jersey’s medical marijuana program. “We can do away with punitive laws that fall the hardest on minorities and create a regulatory system that ensures the safe use of cannabis products by adults. Legalization will deliver social justice reforms and create a new business sector that produces economic opportunities.”
Following a contentious discussion, here’s how they voted 6-1-3:
Doherty NO (“I would vote for a bill, really small amounts, let’s not destroy their life. But this bill just goes way too far.”).
Cardinale ABSTAIN (said he could vote for it on the floor)
Bateman ABSTAIN (may vote for the final version)
Turner YES (still wants relief and reparations to African American communities)
Sarlo YES (still has serious concerns about liability and rights of employers and workers, voted “no” in the booth but emphasized
that the people have spoken; thinks legislation in its current form is vague, needs more hammering.)
Ruiz YES (criticized Doherty for using what she described as an “unacceptable” tone of voice with her during cross-examination)
Scutari YES (wants to continue to improve “what I think is already a really good bill”. “You satisfy one end, you piss someone off on the other side.).
The Senate Judiciary Committee also passed the following bills:
A1897/4269 Acs (ACS) Provides for certain criminal and civil justice reforms, particularly with respect to legal consequences associated with certain marijuana and hashish offences as well as broadening awareness of available expungement relief.*
S2535 Provides for certain criminal and civil justice reforms, particularly addressing legal consequences associated with certain marijuana and hashish offenses as well as raising awareness of available expungement relief.
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin (D-Middlesex) today released the following statement about cannabis legalization enabling legislation:
“Last Tuesday, the people of New Jersey overwhelmingly voted to legalize cannabis for recreational use. In crafting the enabling legislation to support this referendum, I am committed to ensuring that we impose an additional user fee on cannabis consumers that will help to reduce the financial burden on New Jersey’s taxpayers and specifically on its urban communities.
“The legal sale of cannabis will allow us to fairly address issues of criminal justice and provide needed revenue for our state. The enabling legislation will ensure that this money is returned to our communities and that it is distributed fairly.”
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