Will New Jersey be the next state to legalize recreational marijuana? All signs point to YES with a Greenlight happening sometime in late 2018 early 2019. Here is the way I see it.
1. Murphy gets elected Governor in November. By all accounts Mr. Murphy is a proponent of legalizing Recreational Marijuana. His opponent, Kim Guandano, is not.
2. Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union) has been floating a bill in Trenton for the past 3 years. He wants to begin the discussion now to build support among his colleagues in the legislature and across the state. “Now is the time to begin shaping New Jersey’s recreational marijuana program,” Scutari said. “We will have a new governor next year and we should be prepared to move forward with a program that ends the prohibition on marijuana and that treats our residents fairly and humanely.”
3. NJ already has a Medical Marijuana Program with 5 dispensary’s located throughout the state. These dispensary’s will have the 1st shot at selling recreational marijuana and can be viewed as NJ’s Marijuana Infrastructure and give NJ the ability to ramp-up recreational sales very quickly.
4. A Rutgers University-Eagleton Institute poll in June 2015 found that 58 percent of New Jerseyans favor the legalization of marijuana. There is also strong support from the New Jersey Cannabusiness Association and the New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, which funded a report last year showing how much the state could reap in sales tax revenue by legalizing marijuana for recreational use. “We know that legalizing marijuana will result in hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue, the creation of thousands of jobs and a substantial increase in economic activity. It will also mean savings for law enforcement, safer streets, and importantly, a fairer way of treating our residents,” Scutari said. “The benefits are clear, but as part of our work towards legalization, we want to have a robust dialogue…about creating a marijuana program that is best suited for our state.”
The time is ripe for the Garden State to add another product to their locally grown repertoire. The Legalization initiative would follow Scutari’s bill (S3195):
• Decriminalize marijuana possession of up to 50 grams “immediately” and allow people who have been arrested for pot possession to expunge their records;
• Establish a Division of Marijuana Enforcement in the state Attorney General’s Office which would create the rules used to govern the legal market of growers and sellers;
• Allow people to possess up to one ounce of dried marijuana, 16 ounces of edible products infused with cannabis, 72 ounces in liquid form and seven grams of marijuana “concentrate;
• Impose a sales tax on recreational sales beginning at 7 percent in the first year, climbing to 10 percent in the second year and jumping five percent more each year until it reaches 25 percent. Taxes on medical marijuana would be abolished.
Give the five existing medical marijuana dispensary nonprofit groups first crack at selling recreational pot.
Will New Jersey be next?