Weed Bill Passes State and Assembly Committees in N.J., But Success Isn't Guaranteed

November 28, 2018

By Christian Smith

Committees in the New Jersey state Senate and Assembly may have both approved a bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in the state, but the bill's success isn't certain, said Politico New Jersey Reporter Sam Sutton.

"It's still very contentious," Sutton said Wednesday in an interview on Cheddar. "There are a number of Democrats, most notably, former Governor Richard Cody, who is in the Senate now, and Ron Rice, who is a Senator from Essex County, who are both Democrats who are very, very, very opposed to any effort to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes."

The bill, which must now be approved by the full New Jersey legislature, would legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, and would establish a more robust statewide cannabis industry (the state currently allows the sale of medical marijuana).

While most Democrats support legalizing recreational marijuana, debate persists on how the product should be taxed. As the bill is currently written, marijuana products would be taxed 12 percent with an additional 2 percent excise tax for local governments.

Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy's office wants marijuana taxed at 25 percent.

Barring any major developments, Sutton said that people in the Garden State could be able to buy recreational pot in as few as six to eight months ー but that's the best-case scenario for pot enthusiasts.

"More realistically, I would say a year to 18 months from now," Sutton said.