S2703, born out of the "New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act" (Say that 5x fast!!), was finally voted on by New Jersey lawmakers.
The final name of the bill is now the "New Jersey Marijuana Legalization Act."
On Monday, legislators in New Jersey had the chance to square off over the revisions to S2703. While it did pass the first vote later that day, it became clear that there were some major hurdles in the way of the bill being enacted.
Some of the hot button issues include the excise tax, the expungement of convictions related to marijuana, and how to best serve the communities that were most negatively impacted by the prohibition of cannabis.
Within the Department of Treasury, there will be a Division of Marijuana Enforcement which will have control over the newly regulated cannabis industry.
There are 4 categories of licenses available:
Class 1 - Marijuana Grower License for the premises at which the marijuana is grown or cultivated.
Class 2 - Marijuana Processor License for the premises at which the marijuana is processed.
Class 3 - Marijuana Wholesaler License for the premises at which the marijuana is warehoused.
Class 4 - Marijuana Retailer License for the premises at which the marijuana is retailed.
You can possess up to an ounce of dried cannabis flower, up to seven grams of concentrates and six immature cannabis plants, as long as you are over 21 years old.
Cannabis delivery services can be established and operate in areas that allow the possession and sale of marijuana.
Local municipalities have the right to ban cannabis within their jurisdiction.
It is unlawful for people under the age of 21 to possess, manufacture or sell cannabis. The only exception to unlawful possession is if this violation comes to light as the result of a call for medical assistance to emergency services. These types of laws are in are already in place all over the country, in response to the opioid epidemic that is sweeping the nation.
The updates to S2703 also allow for the creation of social lounges where visitors can consume cannabis outside of their home without fear of prosecution by law enforcement. These lounges must not be inside retail marijuana shops, but can be on the same property.
One of main points of contention between NJ lawmakers is the provision regarding the taxation of cannabis. The bill calls for an excise tax starting at 10% in year one, with yearly increases until it reaches 25% at the end of year 4 of the adult use market opening.
Governor Murphy, who has made legalization a major platform of his campaign, is adamant that the tax stay at 25% but many of his fellow Democrats are just as sure it should not be more than 12%. As of today, the Governor has not commented on whether he will support this new version of the bill.