Drastic changes in marijuana approach
Last Thursday, three bills were approved by legislators and they’re meant to drastically change the approach towards marijuana.
New marijuana marketplace
New Jersey’s Senate and Assembly first voted to create a new and legal marijuana marketplace, while also calling for regulations to be written within the next six months.
The Democrat-led Assembly and Senate passed the bill during remote sessions because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Decriminalization of cannabis
A bill that decriminalizes possession of up to six ounces of weed was also approved. One of them was designed to expunge criminal records for low-level marijuana offenses and stop arrests on the same account.
Reducing penalties for possession of magic ‘shrooms
The third bill will reduce penalties for possession of psilocybin, or magic mushrooms. It’ll change from felony charge to disorderly person offense.
Lawmakers hit the ground running with the long-awaited legalization of marijuana in the Garden State.
When it all started
On Election Day, voters approved a constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana in New Jersey for adults 21 or older. The measure takes effect on Jan 1.
Gov. Phil Murphy is expected to sign the bills into law by next week. Murphy is known for running his campaign on a platform to legalize marijuana.
Jersey joins 15 other states and the District of Columbia with the legalization of marijuana.
Cannabis Regulatory Commission responsible for the weed marketplace
The Cannabis Regulatory Commission, under the Department of Treasury, will be responsible to create and enforce statutes that govern the state’s weed marketplace.
Furthermore, the state will give out micro-permits, which are meant to give opportunities for thousands of small businesses by joining the cannabis industry.
N.J expected to save up to $127 million on enforcement costs
The Garden State is expected to save around $127 million per year when the new laws are enacted, on enforcement costs.
However, none of the approved bills address home cultivation of pot, and without a state-issued permit, growing marijuana can still be a felony.
Disagreements in the Senate
Some lawmakers in the Senate criticized the fact that the bills don’t do much in terms of ensuring greater social justice and reparations, especially for communities most affected by the War on Drugs.
Others complained that the bills bore too many regulations and taxes, to begin with. Nonetheless, the bills passed with significant margins.
Fairer cannabis market
Guidelines established in these bills make way for a more fair cannabis marketplace from the start.
People will get opportunities for jobs, college, and a step closer towards equality, which has been more difficult due to marijuana-related charges.
Not only is it positive for communities in New Jersey, but with the creation of a new business sector, thousands of jobs will be created and an estimated $2 billion in revenues a year could be in the future for the state.
N.J.’s medical marijuana
Jersey currently has 12 medical marijuana facilities in operation and while growers will be limited by law for the first two years, tax revenue from pot operations will give back to communities and go towards marijuana-crime cases.
A decades-long fight
Most of the support in New Jersey for marijuana revolved around the so-called social justice. This meant correcting years of unfairness in the application of marijuana prohibition.
This resulted in decades-long discrimination towards Black residents, putting them at more risk and facing higher charges than most white people.