TRENTON, NJ (AP) – A move to set up New Jersey’s new recreational marijuana market is due to be passed by lawmakers Thursday.
The Democrat-led assembly and Senate scheduled the votes for remote sessions because of the coronavirus pandemic.
If passed, the legislation would go to the desk of Democratic Governor Phil Murphy. Murphy and lawmakers said they reached an agreement on the measure earlier this month, and the first-time governor is expected to sign the bill.
Voters overwhelmingly voted in November to amend the constitution to allow marijuana to be used by adults aged 21 and over. The change will take effect on New Year’s Day.
When required by law, the legislation includes a schedule by which recreational cannabis could be available in New Jersey in about six months.
The 200-page legislature is a thicket of technical details closely watched by lobbyists and companies interested in opening a business in New Jersey.
For consumers, the legislation means cannabis is subject to state sales tax of 6.625%, with 70% of the proceeds going to areas disproportionately affected by marijuana-related arrests. Black residents were up to three times more likely to be exposed to marijuana than white residents.
Cities also have the option to levy a tax of up to 2%.
The Cannabis Regulatory Commission can impose an excise tax, the amount of which depends on the cost per ounce of cannabis. The calculation contains four tax levels. So if cannabis is $ 350 or more, the tax per ounce is $ 10. That goes up to $ 60 an ounce if the retail price of the product is less than $ 250.
Another part of the bill that emerged from the negotiations with the legislature is to limit the number of licenses for farmers. They are set to 37 for two years. The Senate didn’t push for limits, but the Assembly wanted the limits.
Legislators are also considering a bill on Thursday to decriminalize marijuana, a move necessary because the state’s laws make possession a crime despite the voter-approved change.
This measure would, among other things, enable the transport of up to 6 ounces of cannabis.