A vote is scheduled for Monday, but passage of marijuana legalization is no sure thing.
Proponents, such as Gov. Phil Murphy, have touted the legislation’s intended benefits.
“The expungements—both real and virtual—associated with what we’re doing on Monday is historic and unprecedented,” Murphy said at a Thursday news conference. ”The opportunity to vacate sentences for those who are incarcerated or on parole is unprecedented.”
Opponents have been vocal, too. John W. Poole, MD, president of the Medical Society of New Jersey, issued a news release the same day, joined by counterparts from three other Northeast states, urging a change in the scheduling of marijuana, but no full legalization before thorough study.
“While we are cognizant of the legal inequity that is all too often attached to marijuana use, we agree with the AMA that public-health-based strategies are a better solution than either the old commitment to incarceration or this new attempt to dodge the problem through legalization,” they said in the statement.
As lawmakers in Trenton weigh the issue and prepare for a possible vote, here’s a look at what the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Modernization Act aims to do:
- Legalize possession for personal use, up to one ounce, for people at least age 21;
- Dismissal of all pending marijuana charges and convictions for up to five pounds, along with an eased expungement process;
- License various classes of growers and retailers, conditioned on such factors as insurance and funding;
- Impose a $42 excise tax per pound, and authorize local taxing;
- Create a five-member commission to make such determinations as the number of licenses available;
- Prohibit driving under the influence of cannabis;
- Create a task force to tackle driving under the influence and other law enforcement issues; and
- Allow municipalities to prohibit cannabis facilities, or to impose caps or to impose civil penalties for public use.