NJ legislation would legalize marijuana, expand medical pot
Updated 2:54 pm, Friday, June 8, 2018
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) — Recreational marijuana would be legalized and the medical cannabis program would be expanded under new legislation unveiled Friday in New Jersey.
The state is moving toward legalizing the drug under Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, who while on the campaign trail promised to authorize recreational cannabis, but the Legislature has not moved on the issue beyond hearings and introducing legislation.
Murphy said Friday at an unrelated news conference in New Brunswick that he wants “to do both” recreational legalization and medical marijuana expansion, but stopped short of supporting the new bills. He added that he’s had “good dialog” with lawmakers on the issue.
Democratic Senate President Steve Sweeney and state Sen. Nicholas Scutari announced the new bills just weeks ahead of a June 30 budget deadline that has upped the stakes since Murphy is banking on revenue from legalization to balance his fiscal 2019 spending pan.
“The legislation to legalize marijuana for adult recreational use would eliminate the draconian laws and penalties currently in place and improve social justice issues in urban areas,” Scutari said. “Law-abiding adults will be able to partake legally and safely knowing exactly what they’re ingesting.”
Nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana. Murphy says he backs legalization as a “social justice” issue and rejects critics’ claims that he’s eager only for new revenues for the cash-strapped budget.
His budget assumes $60 million in new revenues from the pending approval of recreational marijuana. That’s much lower than the roughly $300 million revenue estimates that circulated around last year’s election.
Under the legislation, people 21 and over could possess, buy, use or transport an ounce or less of marijuana. Towns retain the right to create their own