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N.J. Lawmaker To Introduce Legislation For Legalized Pot On Monday

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Marijuana plants grow at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center, a not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles. (credit: Getty Images)

Marijuana plants grow at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center, a not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensary in Los Angeles. (credit: Getty Images)

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A lawmaker from Union County, N.J., is expected to introduce legislation next week that would legalize and tax marijuana.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) announced plans in January to introduce a bill that would make pot legal to anyone 21 or over in the Garden State.

As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported, Scutari plans to introduce the bill Monday, and hold a news conference at the New Jersey Statehouse explaining the legislation and how it would work.

Scutari told WCBS 880 his plan would create needed tax revenues and allow police to focus on enforcing other crimes.

“Legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana will generate revenue in the state while saving millions of dollars spent each year on law enforcement,” said in January.

Voters in Colorado and Washington have made recreational cannabis legal in their states, “and has not had the dire results that critics have predicted,” Scutari said.

The lawmaker said his plan will likely be similar to the one approved in Colorado.

Supporters, including Chris Goldstein of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, said Colorado raked in $2 million in taxes in one month, and New Jersey could see an even larger windfall.

“Right now, we want to eliminate the underground market,” Goldstein said. “We want to bring that underground market into the light.”

Goldstein said legalization would also stop tens of thousands of people from incurring a criminal record and a roadblock in jobs and housing.

“What I’m not willing to do is legalize it or permit recreational use, or things that will lead to that,” Christie said.

Goldstein said there is always a chance of a legislative override.

Scutari also said in January he expects his proposal to be greeted with skepticism from Christie and some lawmakers. But he said he wants to open a dialogue on the issue.

New Jersey already allows medical marijuana but only under tight restrictions.

Lawmakers in New York state have also called for legalized pot.

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