A new bill making its way around the New Jersey legislature would make a move towards legalizing recreational cannabis in the state. The new legislation, proposed by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) would allow for more than 400 dispensaries in the state and a much lower tax rate than the one that was originally proposed by legalization advocates in the past.
Medical cannabis is currently legal in the state of New Jersey, but the medical cannabis program in the state is very restrictive, mostly due to opposition by former governor Chris Christie. Governor Christie made his opposition to legalizing cannabis widely known and has said many times that he would fight legalization tooth and nail. In contrast, while he was campaigning for governor, new governor Phil Murphy said that he would legalize cannabis for recreational use should a bill pass his desk.
Though legalization is a popular idea in the state, there are still many who oppose it, particularly members of anti-legalization groups. Some lawmakers are saying that decriminalization would be the next logical step. Some have cited concerns that DUIs have gone up and more teens are using cannabis. Neither are true, as a matter of fact. Teen cannabis use is at its lowest point in two decades.
Governor Murphy disagrees with them. “[decriminalization] will not help protect our kids and it will not end the racial disparities (in cannabis arrests) we see,” Murphy said. Gusciora’s bill calls for as many as 400 retail marijuana dispensaries, 10 in each of New Jersey’s 40 legislative districts, with a minimum of two dispensaries in each. Gusciora’s bill starts at a 7 percent tax rate for the first two years, before rising to 10 percent during years 3 and 4. The cannabis tax rate then caps at 15 percent beginning in the fifth year.
Will this be the beginning of a new era for cannabis in New Jersey? It certainly seems inevitable at this point.
Source: Asbury Park Press
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