New Jersey Leaders Clinch Deal to Legalize Marijuana
New Jersey political leaders have reached a deal to legalize recreational marijuana, which will make the northeastern US state the 11th to take the step.
The accord “will bring marijuana out of the underground market so that it can be controlled, regulated and taxed, just as alcohol has been since the end of Prohibition,” state senate president Steve Sweeney said in a statement.
Two massive changes to life as we know it in NJ scheduled for votes Monday.
— John P. McAlpin (@johnpmcalpin) March 25, 2019
He has agreed on the broad outlines of legalization legislation along with the state assembly and Governor Phil Murphy — all Democrats. “Legalizing adult-use marijuana is a monumental step to reducing disparities in our criminal justice system,” Murphy said.
Each year, New Jersey authorities make tens of thousands of police stops for cannabis possession, arrests that often lead to criminal charges. African Americans are three times more likely than a white person to get arrested for having marijuana, even though their average consumption of the psychotropic drug is the same, according to the ACLU rights group.
In addition to the 10 states besides New Jersey that have already legalized recreational consumption of the drug, its possession — but not sale — is also legal in the capital Washington. In New York state, which borders New Jersey, several political leaders have shown support, but Governor Andrew Cuomo said it is unlikely a law on the matter will be voted on this year.
Marijuana for adult consumption will face an excise tax of $42 per ounce, imposed when marijuana is cultivated, under the New Jersey deal. There will also be a one to three percent tax for municipalities home to a wholesaler, cultivator or retailer of the drug. The bill’s text is expected to be released in the coming days. “The prohibition on marijuana has long been a failed policy,” said state senator Nicholas Scutari. “This plan will bring an end to the adverse effects our outdated drug laws have had on the residents of our state. As a regulated product legalized marijuana will be safe and controlled.”