Committee Vote Sends Bill To Assembly And Senate, Beginning Windy Road To Gov. Murphy's Desk

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — The state of New Jersey could be just weeks away from legalizing recreational marijuana.

On Monday, lawmakers voted to advance a bill that would legalize the possession of one ounce by adults over 21, CBS2’s Meg Baker reported.

MORENew Jersey Could Legalize Recreational Marijuana By January

Members of the public voiced their concerns about the legalization of recreational marijuana during Monday’s hearing, where Assembly and Senate committees debated and voted on the bill.

The bill has a long way to go through the Senate and Assembly before arriving at Gov. Phil Murphy‘s desk. If Murphy signs it, the creator of the bill said recreational pot could be available to consumers by January.

“We already have licensed facilities selling medical marijuana and part of bill is to allow them to sell legal marijuana to all those over 21 years of age, immediately upon signature. If they can certify that they have enough product to do it,” Sen. Nicholas Scutari said.

MOREMassachusetts Marijuana Shops Open For Business

So, facilities that are already open for medical purposes could open their doors to the public by the end of January.

Companies that have applied to grow and sell go through a rigorous review that takes months before they are approved. Many are already in the process for medical marijuana.

If legalized, Scutari said dispensary licenses would be rolled out by the dozen. A council would be formed to determine the right number of stores to stay competitive and not flood the market.

So how much would marijuana cost? Scutari said the price will be set by the market. He wants it to be competitive enough to take out the black market.

MOREWeed Behind The Wheel: How Much Will Legalizing Marijuana Cost New Jersey Drivers?

Murphy campaigned on legalizing recreational pot, but the legislation stalled due to party leaders battling over how much the drug should be taxed.

On Monday, he addressed the plan.

“We want to take the business out of the hands of the bad guys,” Murphy said. “We want to protect our kids. We want to regulate the right way, and if we can do all that and make a few bucks, that’s conceptually something I’m for.”

The current bill calls for a 12-percent state tax and 2-percent local tax, the lowest tax in the country.

MORENew York State Lawmakers Hold Hearing On Marijuana Legalization

While supporters say legalization could mean big business for the Garden State, some are concerned the drug would get into the hands of minors more easily.

“They are not looking at the safety of our children, where a lot of these substances, these products are in the form of liquid, gummies and other edibles that are at risk of our children,” anti-drug advocate Peter Brown said.

Supporters of the bill disagree.

“People are ingesting, smoking, eating marijuana on a regular basis all throughout New Jersey. It has been happening for 100 years,” Sen. Scutari said in response. “This bill is not something that we’re suggesting to people you should go out and start ingesting and smoking marijuana. But it’s a recognition that people are already doing it.”

Point Pleasant Mayor Stephen Reid is planning to testify his town and other shore towns have banned together to create local ordinances which would essentially ban the sale of marijuana in their municipalities.

  1. Brian Kelly says:

    Marijuana consumers deserve and demand equal rights and protections under our laws that are currently afforded to the drinkers of far more dangerous and deadly, yet perfectly legal, widely accepted, endlessly advertised and even glorified as an All-American pastime, alcohol.

    Plain and simple!

    Legalize Nationwide!

    It’s time for us, the majority of The People to take back control of our national marijuana policy. By voting OUT of office any and all politicians who very publicly and vocally admit to having an anti-marijuana, prohibitionist agenda! Time to vote’em all OUT of office. Period. Plain and simple.

    Politicians who continue to demonize Marijuana, Corrupt Law Enforcement Officials who prefer to ruin peoples lives over Marijuana possession rather than solve real crimes who fund their departments toys and salaries with monies acquired through Marijuana home raids, seizures and forfeitures, and so-called “Addiction Specialists” who make their income off of the judicial misfortunes of our citizens who choose marijuana, – Your actions go against The Will of The People and Your Days In Office Are Numbered! Find new careers before you don’t have one.

    The People have spoken! Get on-board with Marijuana Legalization Nationwide, or be left behind and find new careers. Your choice.

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