TRENTON — Marijuana could be grown, sold and used in New Jersey under new legislation introduced Monday in the state Senate.
The legislation would permit possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused products in solids, 72 ounces in liquid form and 7 grams of concentrate.
Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-Middlesex, Somerset, Union, the bill’s sponsor, said there would also be a sales tax on marijuana from 7 percent to 25 percent over five years to encourage early participation.
Scutari said at a news conference Monday that the measure has little chance of being enacted under Gov. Chris Christie, who opposes legalization efforts, but he’s introducing the measure now as a way to lay the groundwork for it to be enacted by the next governor.
He pointed to states such as Colorado that have successfully implemented recreational marijuana laws, and he called the country’s marijuana prohibition a failure.
“It is time to end the detrimental effect these archaic laws are having on our residents and our state,” Scutari said.
Legalization of marijuana would prohibit home cultivation and establish a Division of Marijuana Enforcement that would be charged with regulating the industry.
New Jersey legalized medical marijuana in 2010, with five dispensaries now operating, including Compassionate Care in Egg Harbor Township.
But Christie, who is leading a White House commission examining the opioid crisis in the country for Republican President Donald Trump, has been a vocal opponent of relaxing marijuana laws.
“You all have to speak out against it,” he told health care leaders at a May 1 New Jersey Hospital Association substance abuse summit. “Because believe me, the professional pot lobby, which is only about making money off this, is going to spend the money they need to get this legalized, and watch what happens in your hospitals. Watch what happens in your medical practices, watch what happens in your neighborhoods.”
Democratic gubernatorial front-runner Phil Murphy has said he would support legalization and decriminalization efforts. Other Democrats running for governor, including Jim Johnson, state Sen. Ray Lesniak and Assemblyman John Wisniewski have said they would back legalization as well.
The GOP front-runner, Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, said last week that Republican U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions likely wouldn’t accept expansion of legalization but stopped short of specifying what her position is on legalization. Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli has said he opposes legalization but favors broadening the state’s medical marijuana program.
Staff Writer Nicole Leonard contributed to this report.