NJ Politics Digest: Lawmakers Working to Fine-Tune Legal Weed Efforts

Proponents of marijuana legalization in New Jersey say it is only a matter of time before a bill is introduced and approved.

Proponents of marijuana legalization in New Jersey say it is only a matter of time before a bill is introduced and approved. David McNew/Getty Images

Efforts to legalize and tax the recreational use of marijuana have so far stalled in the state House, but New Jersey legislators aren’t giving up yet.

On Tuesday, Democratic lawmakers from the state Senate met to discuss a bill that legislative leaders say will bring their legalization efforts to fruition.

As The Record reports, Senate President Steve Sweeney has said he wants to have a bill passed by the end of the month, and Democrats are working to meet that goal.

However, not everyone in the Democratic caucus is pleased with what’s being proposed, with The Record reporting the meeting was “fractious.” And there’s still a question of whether Gov. Phil Murphy, who wants to impose a 25 percent tax on legal weed, will go along with the bill’s call to start out taxing marijuana at 10 percent—with towns able to tack on a two percent tax as a sweetener to convince them to allow for sales—in an effort to choke off black market sales. The tax would then rise to 25 percent over four years, according to the report.

The bill would also provide a mechanism for expungement of past marijuana convictions and also set aside 25 percent of marijuana business licenses for “impact zones,” which The Record report indicates is the Democrats’ way of avoiding illegal racial set asides while addressing past racial inequities in marijuana arrests.

Quote of the Day: “I’ve never hung my name on any tax rate.” — Gov. Phil Murphy, on whether or not he’ll insist legislation legalizing recreational marijuana use imposes a 25 percent tax on sales.

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NJ Politics Digest: Lawmakers Working to Fine-Tune Legal Weed Efforts