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Years after they began their efforts to legalize marijuana for adults in New Jersey, lawmakers on Thursday passed a historic bill that sets rules and regulations for the legal sale of cannabis and makes the Garden State the first in the region to amend pot laws.
The National Assembly voted in favor of the bill by 49 to 24 votes, with 6 abstentions (S21), and the Senate followed it later on Thursday, passing it from 23 to 17.
The bill will now go to Governor Phil Murphy’s desk, who will have to sign the measure to become legal.
“I feel that nothing will have a greater impact than what I did during the legislature for all New Jersey residents,” Senator Nicholas Scutari, a supporter of the bill, D-Union, said before the vote.
“It was a long way,” he said.
The will of the people – who voted 2: 1 in November to amend the state’s constitution and make the weeds legal – eventually prompted stray lawmakers to say yes.
Scutari and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-Gloucester, decided last fall to end legislative efforts to legalize marijuana after repeatedly failing to garner enough votes and raising the issue with voters.
However, the adoption of the ballot paper put legislators back to work to outline the rules and regulations of the industry – this time with a directive passing a bill focusing on social and racial justice.
“The bill on the legalization of cannabis is a strong commitment to social justice,” said Annette Quijano, a D-Union assembly lady who supported the version of the bill in the General Assembly. “This bill sets out measures to make the cannabis business diverse and equitable.”
In addition to passing the 240-page landmark law, lawmakers planned to vote to end arrests for possession of less than six ounces of marijuana or one ounce (S2535) and to reduce penalties for those caught with psilocybin or “magic”. fungus (S3256).
Just before 1 p.m., the General Assembly adopted Articles 64 to 12. Number of decriminalization bills with three abstentions. The Senate narrowly passed the psilocybin bill, which turns possession of an ounce from a third-degree offense to a disorderly offense punishable by up to six months in prison and a $ 1,000 fine, 22 to 15 votes, two to two. stay.
Legislators have put pressure on them to act quickly after the election as the constitutional amendment enters into force on 1 January. Without a law aimed at stopping possession arrests or managing the legal industry, some fear that the illegal market will operate freely and that arrests will continue, but they will face countless court challenges.
Even if Murphy signs the bill quickly, the job remains. Craig Coughlin, chairman of the D-Middlesex General Assembly, must continue to nominate the nominees for the Cannabis Regulatory Commission. This body will oversee the licensing process for new marijuana businesses, from producers to hospitals.
According to some estimates, it could take at least a year for the committee to lay down the rules, grant authorizations and make medicines open to the general public.
We will update this story.
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