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New Jersey Decriminalizes Recreational Marijuana

Trisha Sebastian

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In a spate of signings, New Jersey decriminalizes recreational marijuana and set up a recreational marijuana marketplace. The state also loosened penalties for underage possession of marijuana and alcohol. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed these directives into law Monday. During the last elections, NJ citizens overwhelmingly voted for approval for marijuana legalization.

RELATED: Michigan Goes Recreational for Marijuana Consumption 

Easing Up On Underage Possession

In order to get the governor to sign on the marijuana legislation, the Democrat-led Assembly and Senate passed the measure to ease penalties for underage possession of alcohol and marijuana. Murphy faced a deadline to act on the December measures. He declared backing the measures during the elections but stated concerns about underage arrests. The state needed decriminalization laws as state law continues to recognize possession as a criminal act. Previously, the governor championed the cause of undoing the effects of the war on drugs in black communities. Murphy didn’t fully explain his reasons for delaying the signing. But, he said that wants to make sure young people don’t get caught in the criminal justice system. 

The new legislation subjects underage possession of alcohol and marijuana to written warnings. The warnings escalate will come with parental notification and community services referrals in cases of repeated violations. Also, part of the new law removes towns’ abilities to enact ordinances with civil penalties for underage possession or consumption violations on private property. At present, underage drinking is punishable by six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000.

Delayed Signing 

The new law is part of the November ballot question amending the constitution to permit recreational cannabis for residents 21 and over. Voters approved the measure 2 to 1. Meanwhile, some New Jersey Republicans felt the reduction in penalties is wrong. “There’s no consequence. We’re now saying if you’re caught with it underage it’s a free pass,” said state Senator Bob Singer. Sponsor Senator Nicholas Scutari, a Democrat municipal prosecutor, doesn’t believe the new law will keep young people, let alone black teenagers, out of the criminal justice system. Black residents are three times more likely to face marijuana charges than white residents.

The delay in signing sparked widespread frustration among supporters. “This process has been a debacle from the beginning. The voters did their job,” Democratic Senator Paul Sarlo complained. Also, Sarlo opposed marijuana legalization but supported moves for decriminalization. He voted in favor of the measure because he wants lawmakers to move on and focus on Covid-19 relief. Edmund DeVeaux, head of the New Jersey CannaBusiness Association, said “Enough already,” referring to the delay in enacting. “Only in New Jersey could the will of the voters be so callously ignored,” he added. 

Marijuana Marketplace

As New Jersey decriminalizes marijuana, the state will also get to earn more income. Under the bill, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission will levy an excise tax for all sales. This means total taxes will depend on the cost per ounce of cannabis, and there four levels of tax under the bill. For example, if the price of cannabis is $350 or more, the tax per ounce is $10. The tax increases to $60 per ounce if the item is less than $250. Sales in the marketplace legalization bill will include the state’s 6.625 percent sales tax. 70% of proceeds will go to areas affected by marijuana-related arrests. Towns can also add a tax of up to 2%.

The number of licenses for cultivators will stay at 37 for two years. While the State Senate wanted an unlimited number of cultivators. However, the state Assembly insisted on placing a cap.

Watch the Bloomberg QuickTake New reporting that New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signs bills that legalize recreational marijuana:

Do you support New Jersey’s decision to decriminalize recreational marijuana?

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Do you agree with New Jersey’s decision to decriminalize recreational marijuana? Also, do you support the establishment of a marijuana marketplace to regulate buying and selling? Let us know what you think about New Jersey’s moves. Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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12 Comments

12 Comments

  • Avatar Nancy Hughes says:

    From my experience as a high school teacher, I feel that it is a gateway drug However, decriminalization may not reduce its usage. Education is the only real answer.

  • Avatar Renee P Nicholson says:

    It makes a Mental change in people especially Young people. Mixing that with alcohol continues to destroy young minds.

  • Avatar Honest says:

    I Agree ~ This is the exact reason people voted for the Demon=Crap Party~

  • Avatar Anonymous says:

    NEW JERSEY SUCKS AS A STUPID LIBERAL STATE. IF YOU BRING A GUN INTO NJ. YOU GO TOM THE SLAMMER FOR1 YEAR. I HAVE BEEN I LAW ENFORCEMENT SINCE ’86 AND HAVE SEEN IT ALL. ON BOOZE?? OK A COUPLE OF BEERS AFTER WORK IS OK. BUT DRUGS IS ANOTHER THING. KEPING IT IN THE HOME IS NOT A GOOD IDEA LITTLE PEOPLR ARE VERY NOSEY AN WILL FIND THE STASH IF IT ON THE ROOF. NOW THE KIDS ARE WRE INTO THE SHIT WHEN PARENTS ARE NOT HOME. THE OTHER REASONS ARE KIDS ARE GOING TO BE ABLE TO BUY IT. I CONSIDER 18 YEAR OLDS AS KIDS!!!! WHEN THE DRIVE , BEFORE THEY START THE ENGINE THE RADIO COMES ON WITH ALL THIS RAP SHIT THEN THEY DON’T LOOK LEFT OR RIGHT
    JUST STEP ON THE GAS AND GO. AND NOW THEY ARE GOING ON THE ROAD HIGHER THAN A KITE???

  • Avatar Edwin says:

    I believe that it be legal all the way up to the fed level. A lot of good people have records just because of marihuana.

  • Avatar JJ Johnson says:

    I agree with Renee!👍🏼
    Have a little brother (66 years old) whose brain is fried. Didn’t have to be that way but each of us have choices to make.
    Some make wrong choices!

  • Avatar Jameson says:

    People in NJ who voted to legalize Marijuana are fools. Of course anyone who ever watched Jersey Shore already knows that. Maybe a new series will come out…..Jersey Jerks!

  • Avatar MR.BILL says:

    U CAN’T FIX STUPID! SINCE WHEN HAS PROHIBITION HAS SOLVED ANY PROBLEM? DO U REMEMBER ALCOHOL PROHIBITION? DIDN’T WORK, AND WHAT I LUV IS THE PROFESIONALS[STILL THINK U INJECT WEED,THE SAME PEOPLE THAT HAVE IT SCHEDULED W/HEROIN,CRACK, LSD ] EDUCATE YOURSELF;NO DEATHS HAVE EVER,EVER BEEN RECORDED W/WEED! OVER 3,OOO DIE EVERY YEAR FROM ASPIRIN; DO U SEE ASPIRIN TAKEN OFF SHELVES? A GATEWAY,HOW ABOUT ALCOHOL[THE IST DRUG I EVER HAD WAS BEER;WE ALL KNOW IT’S NOT AVALIABLE]WE ALL KNOW ALCOHOL HAS NEVER AFFECTED SOCIETY;BUT YET THE DAMAGE CONTNUES!W/ALL THE PROBLEMS IN THE WORLD;TRULY PEOPLE,LOOK AROUND,READ ,EDUCATE YOURSELF!DO A DOOB;YOU WON’T AT THE LEAST,HAVE A HEADACHE TOMMOROW! SIGNED SLEEPY & HUNGERY

  • Avatar JAN says:

    MY SON WAS 13 WHEN HE STARTED HIS LONG TRECK INTO THE DRUG WORLD, AND HE STARTED WITH SMOKING MJ! FROM THERE IT WAS ANYTHING HE COULD GET HIS HANDS ON! IT ALMOST KILLED HIM. HE WAS GOOD AT HIDING IT FROM EVERYONE BUT HIS MOTHER! ONLY BECAUSE SHE WORKED FOR A LOCAL P.D. HE EVEN FOOLED THE MARINE CORP. FOR AWHILE, THEN GOT CAUGHT AND THEY GAVE HIM A MED.OR GEN DISCHARGE, WHICH REALLY PISSED HIM OFF. FROM THERE HE TRIED ANYTHING HE COULD GET HIS HANDS ON. LONG STORY SHORT, HE HAD A VERY DEDICATED WIFE AND ONE CHILD, AND HER FAMILY TOOK HIM AND HIS FAMILY IN, FLA.. AFTER A VERY LONG STRUGGLE, GETTING HEP., THEN GOING TO A REHAB, HIS WAS FINALLY CLEAN. THEY THEN HAD A BABY GIRL. MY GRANDSON IS 31 AND MY GRANDDAUGHTER IS GOING TO BE 12. MY SON WILL BE 51 THIS YEAR. TO PUT THIS BACK IN THE FREE TO USE WORLD IS JUST STUPID!!!!! MOST OF THE DUI’S ARE BECAUSE OF DRUGS, MJ, OR OTHERS, BUT IT STARTS WITH MJ AND JUST GETS WORSE!

  • Avatar David says:

    Why not….they’re letting hard criminals go free…..I would support legalization more if you could keep it out away from kids…..

  • Avatar Chase says:

    I live in Oregon where it is decriminalized! Pot smokers think that they can use it anywhere, anyplace, anytime, much like alcohol! There is a pot store on every corner everywhere you go. Do your all selves a favor, keep your laws as is….! I believe it was much better being a crime. At least then it remains under a form of control!

  • Avatar Anonymous says:

    I GUESS ALL THE REPLY’S R FROM PEOPLE WHO’S HAD SOMEONE ADDICTED?-I LOST A MARRIAGE OF 30 YRS OVER ‘LEGAL ALCOHOL’ EVERYBODY CAN GET ADDICTED TO ANYTHING, 65 YRS OF LIFE TELLS ME ‘WE ALL GOT ISSUES’ BUT IF YOU THINK POT IS THE CAUSE OF THE WORLDS WOES YOU R FAR FROM THE TRUTH MY FRIEND.THE TRUTH IS HUMANS HAVE ALWAYS LOOKED FOR ALTERED MIND STATES IF NOT SO ‘HAPPY HOUR’ WOULD NOT EXIST!!! GET THAT EVENING GLASS OF WINE OR 5 OCLOCK COCKTAILS.LOOK AT THE STATS FOR STATES THAT HAVE LEGALIZED IT; CO.STATE’S VIOLENT CRIME DROPPED 50 percent after the first year!NO MATTER WHAT THE SUBSTANCE IS’PEOPLE’ R GOIN 2 ABUSE SOMETHING! WEIGHTWATCHER”S ANYONE?

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