TRENTON, NJ — Senator Nicholas Scutari (D-Linden) has filed a bill that would legalize cannabis in New Jersey and to create a taxed and regulated system like Colorado.
Last week Senator Scutari held a press conference announcing the bill, Senate Bill 1896, and Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Scotch Plains) announced she would introduce matching companion legislation in the Assembly.
These bills are in addition to a bill in the State Assembly filed by Assemblymen Reed Gusciora (D-Trenton) and Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris Plains) that would put approval of marijuana legalization before voters. This assembly bill would legalize the possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, but would not provide a regulated system of retail sales or allow home cultivation of marijuana.
Senator Scutari’s bill goes beyond that and covers the taxation and regulation of possession, distribution and cultivation of marijuana.
Scutari’s bill calls for the legalization of possession of up an ounce of marijuana, transfer of up to an ounce between adults for no financial gain and the cultivation of up to 6 plants (only 3 mature). The bill also allows for retail stores to be setup and for the formation of a division of Alcoholic Beverages and Marijuana Control.
Senate Bill 1896 also calls for a tax to be established on marijuana. This tax will be divided up in to 3 main sections:
- 70% of all monies collected going to a Transportation Trust Fund Account and that money will be used fix the state road infrastructure. Scutari has coined this as “pot for pot-holes” tax.
- 20% of the tax money collected would go to a “Drug Enforcement and Demand Reduction Fund”
- Finally the last 10% of the tax money collected shall go to 43 programs addressing women’s health, family planning, postpartum depression awareness, smoking cessation, and HIV-awareness.
The bill also clearly states that sales tax is not allowed to be applied to medical marijuana.
In a shocking move, the board of trustees of the New Jersey State Municipal Prosecutors Association on Feb. 21 voted to endorse marijuana legalization, said its president, Jon-Henry Barr, who is municipal prosecutor in Kenilworth and Clark. This wasn’t a unanimous vote but it was overwhelmingly in support with seven in favor, 2 against and 1 abstaining.
The bill is vague in some areas and will need to be amended later on. The bill most likely wont be signed into law by Governor Christie anytime soon, but, says Senator Scutari, “He’s not going to be governor forever.”
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has repeatedly said that he will not allow marijuana legalization or decriminalization while he is Governor.
The full version of Senator Nicholas Scutari’s marijuana legalization bill can be found here.