Two committees in the New Jersey Senate and Assembly voted on a bill to legalize recreational marijuana today (March 18). If the bill passed in both committees, then the entire House could vote on the matter as soon as March 25.
Stephen Sweeney, the Senate President, revealed that the members had received copies of the bill on Thursday last week and that the Democrats in the House have started talking to Republicans in order to get some of them to vote for the bill.
The support of some Republicans was crucial, because a number of prominent Democrats in the House were likely to vote against the bill. In order to pass, at least 21 Senators needed to vote for the bill.
The current bill is a modified form of the original version. The tax system suggested in the original version was changed so that marijuana could be taxed by weight instead of imposing an excise tax on every sale made.
The modified bill also has a provision to expunge the criminal record of individuals who were arrested or convicted for marijuana distribution. This didn’t exist in the previous version of the marijuana legalization bill.
It is this modified bill that the Senate Judiciary committee considered and voted on at 2:00 p.m. today, while the Appropriations Committee of the Assembly sat at noon today.
Marijuana proponents say they aren’t inventing marijuana. Rather, it is present in the different communities, and the social injustices committed during the so-called war on drugs also exist.
Passing the legalization bill would regulate the cannabis industry and get it out of the hands of criminal gangs. The state would earn taxes from the industry and thousands of jobs would be created. All this isn’t bad, the advocates say.
Another bill that was voted on today aims at increasing the quantity of medical cannabis that a patient can buy in the state. The bill also set in motion steps to end the imposition of excise tax on medical cannabis by 2024, in addition to legalizing marijuana edibles.
A third bill aims at making it easier for New Jersey to expunge marijuana charges from the criminal records of those who qualify under the law. For example, the mandatory time that must elapse before the charges are expunged will be reduced under this law.
This week may potentially be a turning point as far as marijuana is concerned in New Jersey. SinglePoint, Inc. (OTCQB: SING) and Sproutly Canada, Inc. (OTCQB: SRUTF) (CSE: SPR) (FRA: 38G) called for an objective assessment of the bills before voting took place. Such a sober approach will ensure that the best decisions are made on behalf of the people of New Jersey.
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