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Election 2020: New Jersey hashish legalization information

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Latest news on the New Jersey Marijuana Legalization Amendment

July 28 — A new DKC Analytics poll found that 68% of New Jersey registered voters support adult-use cannabis legalization. The favorable numbers are up significantly from a Monmouth University poll in April, which found 61% support on the issue. More at NJ.com.

Full text: NJ Marijuana Legalization Amendment

Read the full proposal here: New Jersey Marijuana Legalization Amendment (S2703/A4497)

Medical or adult use?

Adult use

The New Jersey Marijuana Legalization Amendment (S2703/A4497) would amend the state constitution to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults age 21 and older. It would also legalize the cultivation, processing, and sale of retail cannabis. The constitutional amendment would take effect on January 1, 2021.

What the latest polls say

A Brach Eichler cannabis poll released July 28, 2020, found that 68% of New Jersey registered voters support adult-use cannabis legalization. The favorable numbers are up significantly from a Monmouth University poll in April, which found 61% support on the issue. More at NJ.com. In that Monmouth poll, 74% of Democrats, 64% of independents and 40% of Republicans said they would support the amendment.

Find medical marijuana dispensaries near you in New Jersey

Legalization initiative supporters

State Sen. Stephen Sweeney (D-3), senate president
State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-22)
NJ CAN 2020 / Campaign Manager Axel Owen
NJ CAN 2020 coalition includes these organizations:
ACLU of New Jersey
Latino Action Network
American Trade Association for Cannabis and Hemp
Doctors for Cannabis Regulation
Law Enforcement Action Partnership
NAACP New Jersey State Conference
NJ CannaBusiness Association
New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform

Legalization initiative opponents

NJ RAMP (Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy)
Smart Approaches to Marijuana

Would retail cannabis stores be licensed?

Yes, but there are barely any specifics in the amendment itself, which calls only for the state Cannabis Regulatory Committee (CRC), which already regulates the state’s medical marijuana program, to establish and oversee the adult-use program’s rules and regulations.

Would recreational marijuana be taxed?

The amendment prohibits specific marijuana excise taxes, but the sale of adult-use cannabis would be subject to the normal state sales tax of 6.625%. The state Legislature could allow local governments to tack on an additional 2% sales tax if they so desired.

The devil will be in the (forthcoming) details: In addition to licensing procedures, the state Cannabis Regulatory Committee (CRC) and the state Legislature will still need to figure out homegrow, possession limits, and other basic regulations.
If the amendment passes, New Jersey will become the first mid-Atlantic state to legalize adult-use cannabis.
The new law would create an online portal that allows individuals with marijuana convictions (possession charges of up to five pounds) to expedite expungements. The amendment also requires pending possession charges to be downgraded or dismissed.
The amendment dedicates at least 25 percent of licenses “specifically for residents of ‘impact zones’ – municipalities with more than 120,000 people, or those communities that have the highest rates of marijuana arrests, crime, and unemployment in the state.”
The amendment prevents employers, landlords, and others from discriminating against people with marijuana convictions, and permits state residents to take legal action against such discrimination.

Current marijuana law in New Jersey

New Jersey first passed the Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act in 2010. That law, which legalized medical marijuana and established regulations around dispensaries, was actively undermined by then-Gov. Chris Christie, an aggressive opponent of all forms of cannabis legalization.

In 2019, Gov. Phil Murphy (D) signed the Jake Honig Compassionate Use Medical Cannabis Act, which dramatically improved the program. Those 2019 reforms increased monthly limits from two ounces to three, legalized medical cannabis edibles for adults, and phased out the sales tax on cannabis medicine. There are currently around 80,000 registered patients and 11 state-licensed dispensaries in New Jersey.

A major cannabis decriminalization bill is, as of July 2020, making its way through the state Legislature.

Quotes from legalization advocates

“We’ve been advocating for a very long time on the issue of expunging criminal records—an automatic expungement process that goes back in time and erases some of these marijuana offenses off criminal records without the offender having to go back and jump through a lot of burdens…That has a cost associated with it, so cannabis revenue … helps (with) paying for that.” – Bill Caruso, attorney and member of New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform and NJ CAN 2020 
“Legalization is a significant step in public policy that will have a real-life impact on social justice, law enforcement and the lives of people in communities throughout New Jersey…With the public’s approval, we will be able to move forward to correct social and legal injustices that have had a discriminatory impact on communities of color.” – State Senate President Stephen Sweeney

Quotes from legalization opponents

“With each day, more information makes it clear that marijuana legalization is a failed experiment. Data proves it to be useless in stemming the opioid epidemic. It could actually be making it worse. States struggle to tame the black market, which makes tax revenues laughably small; the workforce tests positive for drugs at historic rates; minorities continue to suffer as promised social equity fails to materialize; and health issues and safety concerns pile up.” – Stephen Reid, executive director of New Jersey Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy (NJ-RAMP) and former Republican mayor of Point Pleasant Beach    

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Beth Edmonds