Years after they began efforts to legalize marijuana for New Jersey adults, lawmakers on Thursday passed a historic bill that establishes rules and regulations for legal cannabis sales and makes the Garden State the first in the region to overhaul its pot laws.
The state Assembly voted 49-24 with six abstentions to pass the bill (S21). The Senate is also holding a voting session and will take up the bill.
It was the will of the people — who voted 2:1 in November to amend the state constitution and make weed legal — that ultimately pushed straggling lawmakers to say yes.
Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Union, the bill’s sponsor, and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, decided last fall to end the legislative effort to legalize marijuana after failing multiple times to garner enough votes and instead put the issue to the voters.
But the passage of the ballot question put lawmakers back to work to outline the rules and regulations for the industry — this time with a directive to pass a bill that focuses on social and racial justice.
In addition to passing the 240-page landmark legislation, lawmakers are also scheduled to vote to end arrests for possessing less than six ounces of marijuana or selling up to an ounce (S2535) and to lessen penalties for those caught with psilocybin, or “magic” mushrooms (S3256).
Legislators were under pressure to act quickly following the election, as the constitutional amendment takes effect Jan. 1. Without a law to stop possession arrests or steer the legal industry, some worried the illegal market would operate freely, and that arrests would continue but face a myriad of court challenges.
Even if Gov. Phil Murphy signs the bill quickly, work remains. He and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, D-Middlesex, must still name appointees to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission. That panel will oversee the licensing process of new marijuana businesses, from growers to dispensaries.
Some estimate it could take at least a year before the commission establishes rules, awards licenses and dispensaries open to the public.
This story will be updated.
Information on Novel Coronavirus
Alert: FBI Reports Armed Protests Planned for All 50 States
A bombshell report this afternoon from ABC News: “The FBI has ‘received information about an identified armed group intending to travel to Washington, DC on 16 January. They have warned that if Congress attempts to remove POTUS via the 25th Amendment a huge uprising will occur,’ according to a bulletin obtained by ABC,” reports Aaron Katersky.
A reporter at today’s COVID-19 briefing said alleged insurrectionists plan an action at the Capitol on January 17th.
“We need to bat 1K every day and trust that those who do show up do so in a peaceful manner,” said State Police Colonel Pat Callahan.
“FBI now reports in a bulletin ‘Armed protests are being planned at all 50 state capitols from 16 January through at least 20 January, and at the US Capitol from 17 January through 20 January.”
The FBI is seeking information that will assist in identifying individuals who are actively instigating violence in Washington, DC. The FBI is accepting tips and digital media depicting rioting and violence in the U.S. Capitol Building and surrounding area in Washington, DC, on January 6, 2021.
He also decried those who refuse to identify and condemn those perpetrating the heinous act of treason.
“When you excuse their actions, you empower them to act again,” said Murphy.
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Dr. Amesika Nyaku is a graduate of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She completed her Internal Medicine residency and Infectious Diseases fellowship at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She cares for people living with HIV/AIDS as well as people with general infectious diseases.
Dr. Nyaku has a clinical focus on providing HIV care and prevention services with integrated medication assisted treatment for substance use disorders. Her research interests are novel HIV therapeutics and improving HIV care for individuals with co-occurring substance use disorders. She is involved in HIV prevention and treatment trials through the New Jersey Medical School Clinical Research Center.