N.J. legislator plants seeds for recreational marijuana legalization

     (Image: Wikipedia.org)

    (Image: Wikipedia.org)

    Marijuana could be grown, sold, taxed, and used in New Jersey under new legislation introduced in the state Senate.

    Democratic Sen. Nicholas Scutari unveiled the proposal for New Jersey becoming the twelfth state to regulate recreational marijuana at a statehouse news conference on Monday. The bill has little chance of being enacted under Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who opposes legalization efforts.

    But Scutari says he’s introducing the measure now as a way to lay the groundwork for it to be enacted by the next governor. The legislator introduced a similar bill in 2014.

    In 2016, fellow Democratic Assemb. Reed Gusciora introduced a bill to let voters decide whether to make recreational use of marijuana legal only in Atlantic City.

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    Democratic gubernatorial front-runner Phil Murphy has said he would support legalization and decriminalization efforts. The GOP front-runner, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, said last week that Republican U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions likely wouldn’t accept expansion of legalization.

    The legislation would permit possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of a marijuana infused product in solid form, 72 ounces in liquid form, and seven grams of concentrate, but would prohibit home cultivation and consuming marijuana openly. 

    It would also permit the licensing of commercial marijuana grow operations and retail facilities within one year of the bill’s passage.

    Other highlights include instituting strict regulations on the production and sale of marijuana, providing municipalities the ability to adopt ordinances governing the operation or prohibiting, and establishing a sales tax rate of 7 percent in the first year that escalates to 25 percent in the fifth year. 

    At a substance abuse forum earlier this month, Christie said legalizing marijuana would be “beyond stupid” during the ongoing opiate crisis. 

    “But people are saying pot’s OK. This is nothing more than crazy liberals who want to say everything’s OK. Baloney,” he said. 

    The medicinal use of marijuana is legal in the state but heavily regulated. The state Medicinal Marijuana Review panel voted last week to expand the program to include chronic plan related to a host of disorders and syndromes. 


    The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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