NJ marijuana legalization soon? Legal weed ‘clean-up’ passes, heads to Gov. Phil Murphy
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TRENTON – Legal weed could be just hours away after legislators on Monday passed a much-debated bill that virtually decriminalizes underage marijuana and alcohol use.
The state Senate and Assembly on Monday morning approved a bill dictating the penalties for underage marijuana and alcohol use, a “clean-up” bill seen as the last step before Gov. Phil Murphy will sign into law a bill package legalizing weed.
The Senate passed the bill with a 22 to 12 vote, while the Assembly passed the bill 49 to 27, with one abstention.
The package of “enabling legislation” is designed to put into effect the constitutional amendment approved by voters in November, when over two-thirds of them supported a ballot question to legalize marijuana.
In December, the Legislature passed bills to decriminalize possession of up to 6 ounces of marijuana and legalize the eventual taxation, purchase and sale of legal weed at state-licensed dispensaries.
“I would like to say this is a momentous day, but I’ve probably said that once before — more than once before,” said Sen. Nick Scutari, D-Union, who sponsored the legal weed bills and the clean-up bill passed Monday. “Hopefully, we’ll be able to not just put this topic behind us but move forward with what the voters have implored us to do.”
The compromise clean-up bill treats marijuana and alcohol use or possession by anyone under 21 years old as the same offense. The bill into place a three-tiered warning system for underage alcohol or marijuana use and possession.
On the first offense, the person would be issued a written warning. On the second offense, the person’s parents or guardians would be notified and provided information about community services or groups offering education on substance use.
On a third or subsequent offense, the person would be referred to those community services or groups.
Murphy is expected to sign the three bills before 12 p.m., a deadline under which the bills to decriminalize and legalize weed would become law regardless of his action. He had threatened to veto the pair of bills without a third one to dictate penalties for underage marijuana use.
That third bill caused a six-week stalemate. Initial versions of the bill called for hundreds in fines and mandatory treatment services for anyone under 21 years old found with marijuana.Buy marijuana online with credit card online UK
“Today is anything but momentous. Sixty-six percent of the voters of New Jersey spoke loudly and clearly they wanted to legalize recreational marijuana,” Sen. Paul Sarlo, D-Bergen, said, before voting in favor of the bill. “They turned it over to this administration and this Legislature to put the process in place. Unfortunately, all of us in elected office — both administration and this Legislature — we bungled this process. Buy marijuana online with credit card online UK
“This process has been a debacle from the beginning.”
Members of the Legislature’s Black and Latinx caucuses objected to various versions of the bill, alleging that it would have allowed police to continue disproportionately enforcing marijuana laws against youth of color.Buy marijuana online with credit card online UK
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According to the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, Black people were 3.5 times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white people, despite similar usage rates among races.
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