With two weeks before the date set for a vote, a bill to authorize the use of adult-use recreational marijuana has still not been formally introduced to the New Jersey Legislature.
Still, key proponents said that the deadline will be met.
The primary issues that still need to be locked down are tax rates and social justice.
State Senate President Stephen Sweeney said last week that he wouldn’t budge from a maximum 12 percent state tax rate plus a 2 percent cap on a municipal rate.
Governor Phil Murphy reportedly wants a higher rate, but during a public appearance backed off a 25 percent rate.
“I’ve never hung my name on any tax rate,” Murphy said, adding that the rate is “to be determined.”
The issue of expungement for possession offenses continues to be a sticking point. State Senator Nicholas Scutari said his bill calls for automatic eligibility for expungement.
“It’s not an eraser where they just go in and erase your record,” Scutari said. “Expungement in New Jersey takes the form of a process, an application process, by which you used to have to go to court, or you do a lot of paperwork, and there’s individual input from all sorts of agencies.”
The latest draft of the legislation, dated Oct. 4, spans 135 pages and addresses taxes, regulations and eligibility to operate a marijuana business, according to northjersey.com.
There are also separate bills in the works dealing with medical marijuana expansion and expungement.
Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin said “I would suspect that there’ll be broad bipartisan support for medical marijuana, but for adult use, I’m not sure.”
Another issue up for debate is which agency will oversee and regulate the industry. Scutari’s bill proposes a new Cannabis Control Commission.
Legislators are also trying to hammer out which government agency would regulate the state’s marijuana industry. Scutari’s bill, again, proposes a Cannabis Control Commission.
“We finally had a bill we could put in front of our members,” Sweeney said. “We expect them to digest it, and we’ll be talking about it more real soon.”
Sweeney said he and Coughlin will work together on when the bill will be formally introduced.
Murphy is not committed to the Oct. 29 deadline for a vote.
“It’s more important to get it right than get it fast,” he said.