Lawmakers in New Jersey have called off a proposed vote on whether or not to legalize cannabis for recreational use across the state. Even if it had made it to the Senate floor for a vote, the bill wouldn’t have garnered sufficient votes to pass. The vote was originally planned for Monday of last week.
Medical cannabis has been legal in New Jersey since 2010. Medical marijuana is also legal in 31 other states, along with the District of Columbia. Ten states have already legalized recreational cannabis as well.
If the bill had passed successfully, Senate Bill 830 (SB830) would have legalized recreational marijuana in the state of New Jersey for residents over the age of 21. In addition, SB830 would have included a 3% tax to be assessed by cities with cannabis dispensaries on all sales of recreational marijuana, as well as a 2% tax on grower’s profits and a 1% tax on wholesale cannabis.
According to a synopsis of the bill, SB830 “legalizes possession and personal use of small amounts of marijuana for persons age 21 and over; creates Division of Marijuana Enforcement and licensing structure.” You can read the entire bill for yourself here.
In a statement made at a recent news conference, one of the bill’s major proponents, Democratic Senator Stephen Sweeney, President of the New Jersey State Senate, said, “I may have underestimated the challenge of getting this passed…While we are all disappointed that we did not secure enough votes to ensure legislative approval of the adult use cannabis bill today, we made substantial progress on a plan that would make significant changes in social policy.”
Rest assured, though. Despite the bill’s failure this time, Sweeney is confident that the issue will remain at the forefront of public discussion, saying, “We’ll be back at this. So, anybody who thinks this is dead, they’re wrong. This is an issue that’s not going away. The legalization of adult-use marijuana will get passed in the state of New Jersey, one way or another.”
Two other bills also failed to make it to the Senate floor for a vote. One was aimed at expunging cannabis related convictions, the other intended to expand upon the existing state-run medical marijuana program, which has been criticized for being limited in scope.
Although it may take a little bit longer to arrive, recreational legalization in the Garden State is closer now than ever before. With the current Governor’s support, the issue is sure to come up again soon.
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tweeted just last week, “History is rarely made on the very first try. But, eventually, barriers do fall to those who are committed to breaking them down. Join me live in Trenton as we recommit to passing adult-use marijuana legalization and expungement legislation.”