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Manic Monday: Will Monday, March 25, 2019 Be the Day Adult Use Marijuana Is Legalized in New Jersey?

Talks Heat Up After Hibernating Through Winter

After a fairly quiet winter, efforts to pass a bill legalizing adult use marijuana in New Jersey have ramped up.  It is being reported that Governor Murphy and top legislators reached agreement on the sticking points that were holding up the adult use bill.  Namely, the excise tax (now $42/ounce), local taxation (2% for growers and processors, 1% for wholesalers, and 3% for retailers), and appointments to the Cannabis Regulatory Commission (3 members appointed by the Governor without legislative recommendation, and the other 2 appointed upon recommendation of the Senate President and Speaker of the Assembly respectively).  The Assembly Appropriations Committee voted to advance the bill (6-1, with 2 abstentions), along with the Senate Judiciary Committee (6-4 with 1 abstention).

The Vote

Now for the fun part.  The bill, S2703 (companion A4497) will be put before the full state legislature for a vote on Monday, March 25, 2019.  In order to pass, the bill must receive 21 votes in the Senate and 41 in the Assembly.  This week, we saw reports that the bill doesn’t quite have the necessary votes,  but Governor Murphy and Senator Sweeney have been rumored to be zealously working the phones to persuade legislators by Monday.

What to Expect

If the bill is passed, don’t expect to see (legal) retail sales of marijuana overnight.  The Cannabis Regulatory Commission has 180 days from the date of enactment to promulgate rules that will regulate the industry, and applications for licenses will not be accepted for 30 days from the time the rules are promulgated.  So we are likely looking at sometime in 2020 before any retailers open their doors.

And if the bill is not passed, it likely won’t be the end of the story.  Chances are the issue will be revisited in the fall (as the budget will take center stage this spring) or it could be the subject of a ballot referendum.

If we do have a new law on Monday, stay tuned as we break down its key provisions in a series of future posts.

If you have any questions about this post or any other related matters, please feel free to contact me at adlinden@norris-law.com.