LINDEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) – After campaign promises, wild speculation and political debate, a plan forward for legal weed in the Garden State now has a formal draft.
A big stack of papers on the desk of State Senator Nicholas Scutari is the final draft of his bill to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey, reports CBS2’s Meg Baker.
If passed in its latest form, the bill would legalize the possession and personal use of small amounts of marijuana for people at least 21 years old on their own property – not in public except for designated areas.
“One of the things people will be in interested in, not smoke shops but consumption lounges areas to consume legally, not in public but in a private industry setting,” said Scutari.
He says access to these legal smoking areas are important for people who live in housing projects and apartment buildings, where smoking is not permitted.
Residents soon could also get their pot delivered much like the way kegs and cases of beer are delivered, stimulating more aspects of the economy and creating jobs, said Scutari.
As for how much marijuana will be taxed, Scutari noted they will need to negotiate with state leadership. Right now the rate is listed at 10 percent, the lowest marijuana tax in the county.
Scutari faces opposition right in his own backyard in Linden, N.Y.
“At end of day this bill is nothing more than about money,” said Peter Brown, a Linden councilman.
On Tuesday, Linden’s council passed the first reading of an ordinance banning the sale of recreational marijuana and smoking lounges.
“(It was) very important we keep a nice clean conductive environment for our youth here in town,” said Brown.
It’s still to be determined how long it might take to get the bill approved, but Scutari says to expect hearings in the next few weeks.
Earlier this month, New Jersey has 146 applications to choose from for six new medical marijuana dispensaries across the state, Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy said Wednesday.
Murphy announced the number of applications from 106 different companies vying for two locations in each of the state’s regions — north, central and south.
It’s the latest development since Murphy announced in July he was seeking to double the number of dispensaries from six to 12. He also says program participation grew to 30,000 people, up from 15,000 since January, when Murphy was inaugurated.