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Posted on: March 13, 2019

Agreement on Marijuana Legalization; Final Passage Remains Uncertain

In joint statements released yesterday, the Governor, the Senate President, the Assembly Speaker, Senator Nick Scutari, and Assemblywoman Annette Quijano announced that they have reached consensus on the provisions of legislation to legalize recreational adult use marijuana.

We anticipate release of draft bill language in the near future and possible floor votes on legalization on March 25. However, it appears that the measure does not yet have sufficient support in either house, so passage this month remains uncertain.

Once released, the League will provide commentary and analysis on the new draft. In the meanwhile, the new draft bill language will have the following provisions:

1) The State tax will be $42/ounce imposed at the cultivation stage;
2) The local option tax will be the following:

a. 3% for retail;

b. 2% cultivation;

c. 2% manufacturing;

d. 1% wholesale.

3) State oversight will be administered by a Commission. This body will include three
members appointed by the Governor and the remaining two will be appointed by the
Governor upon the recommendation of the Senate President and Assembly Speaker,
respectively.
4) The expungement process will include a “virtual expungement” that will prevent
certain marijuana offenses from being considered, “…in certain areas such as
education, housing, and occupational licensing.” There will also be established an
“expedited expungement” process for individuals with low-level marijuana offenses.

The League, as you know, has advocated for a higher local option than the 2% originally contemplated and has worked closely with the Urban Mayors Association on the expungement and restorative justice provisions. Currently, the bill allows for the automatic eligibility for expungement of convictions for possession of 50 grams or less of marijuana. There remain concerns regarding an individual’s cost of seeking expungement, which can be time-consuming, complicated, and burdensome.

Draft bill amendments are expected in the upcoming days, and the League will provide an analysis of the new language, with a particular focus on the local option tax and expungement in a timely manner.

Contact: Michael F. Cerra, Assistant Executive Director, mcerra@njlm.org, 609-695-3481, ext. 120.

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