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Two New Bills Could Revolutionize Marijuana Industry in New Jersey

While the bills are still works in progress, legislators are optimistic and enthusiastic.

A.J. Herrington

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Two New Bills Could Revolutionize Marijuana Industry in New Jersey
Roxana Gonzalez/ Shutterstock

Two bills being crafted by state legislators could revolutionize the marijuana industry in New Jersey if they are successfully passed into law. Provisions of the measures include home delivery of cannabis products, removing a cap on dispensaries, and automatic expungement of some past marijuana convictions.

For the past several weeks, a group of New Jersey legislators has been writing two bills that encapsulate the provisions of several cannabis bills introduced during this year’s legislative session. The first measure would allow the expansion of the medicinal use of cannabis, while the second bill would lead to full legalization of recreational marijuana in the state.

Democratic Assemblyman Joseph Danielson is one of the lawmakers working on the bills. He told local media that the group of legislators is still working out the details of the bills.

“Everything is a guessing game because leadership still has to get the votes,” said Danielson. “There are a lot of moving parts. It’s like an erector set.”

The lawmakers have been writing the bills with gaining the support of Gov. Phil Murphy in mind so that the cannabis legalization programs will be successful.

“I learned my lesson with the medicinal marijuana program when the (Christie) administration was not on board. We saw a slow-moving program,” said Democratic Sen. Nicholas Scutari.

Advisory Commission To Be Formed

According to media reports, the legislators have reached a consensus on some terms of the bills. Scutari said that one provision would establish a marijuana advisory commission to regulate the recreational and medicinal cannabis markets.

“Market forces will decide, but we want to make sure [the market] runs effectively and there is adequate product available,” Scutari said.

Scutari expects the commission to be responsible for “rounding out the specifics on diversity in the licensure process, and for the vetting [of] geographic areas,” he said.

Cannabis Home Delivery Under Consideration

The home delivery of both medicinal and recreational cannabis is also under consideration by the group of lawmakers. Earlier this year Murphy indicated his support for delivery to medical marijuana patients, and now recreational cannabis may be included as well.

The recreational marijuana bill has no cap on the number of dispensary licenses that could be issued, according to Sen. Joe Vitale, also a Democrat. Another legalization bill earlier this year had proposed a cap of 120 dispensaries for the state, but that idea has been rejected so that if increasing the number in the future becomes necessary, further action by the legislature will not be required. Instead, the number of licenses issued will be determined by regulators.

Criminal Records To Be Expunged

Legislators also plan to include a measure in the cannabis legalization bills to expunge the criminal records of those with convictions for actions that are no longer illegal. Scutari said that “immediate” expungement would be granted for simple possession convictions and that the bill will have “an efficient and cost-effective method” of clearing people’s records.

Other possible provisions of the two bills include micro-licenses for small operators, and programs to encourage diversity in the cannabis industry. The lawmakers are close to finishing the bills, with only details remaining, according to Vitale.

“There’s clean-up language that we’re doing now,” Vitale said. “And we’ll probably have one more quick conference call.”

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