Now that New Jersey has avoided a shutdown and has a state budget, when will the legislature tackle the various pending marijuana bills?
Governor Phil Murphy and State Senate President Steve Sweeney each made statements over the weekend regarding the issue.
““I think there’s a broad commitment among all of us — I think I can speak for all of us — to try to get that over the goal line sooner rather than later,” Murphy said Saturday, standing alongside Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.
Sweeney echoed those sentiments Sunday, saying, “The speaker and I are committed to getting marijuana this summer.”
There are many issues to be resolved regarding the legislation, including:
- Will the bill combine medicinal marijuana expansion and recreational use legalization? Or will it be two separate bills with medicinal expansion tackled first?
- How will marijuana arrest and conviction records be dealt with? The ACLU of New Jersey and New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform are among the groups pushing for expungement of criminal records. “Automatic expungement has to be an inextricable, central part of any legalization proposal the legislature considers. Forcing people to bear the consequences of a criminal conviction for an offense that’s no longer considered a crime simply prolongs the injustices of the failed, discriminatory drug war,” said ACLU-NJ Executive Director Amol Sinha, who testified before the Assembly Judiciary Committee in Trenton last month.
- How big will the industry be? There’s plenty of debate inside and outside the cannabis industry on how many licenses should be granted for dispensaries as well as for growing and manufacturing facilities. The business of legalization is a complicated issue.