Senate Bill Would Make Weed Legal in New Jersey

Gov. Chris Christie is against marijuana legalization – but the bill's sponsor wants to get the ball rolling for the next governor. | cheche22

A Democratic senator has introduced a bill that would make recreational marijuana use legal in New Jersey.

Sen. Nicholas Scutari is behind a bill that, if passed, would allow weed to be grown, sold and taxed in the Garden State. The senator – who’s attempted to pass a similar bill before – wants New Jersey to join the eleven states that have legalized recreational use of the drug.

The bill stands virtually no chance of making it past Republican Gov. Chris Christie, who has called supporters of marijuana legalization “crazy liberals” who wants to “poison our kids,” according to Politico

That’s why Scutari said he wants to get the bill ready for the state’s next Governor. At a recent press conference, Scutari said the bill would provide New Jersey with a major tax benefit and economic boost.

The legislation would allow possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, 16 ounces of a marijuana-infused product in solid form and 72 ounces in a liquid form. Municipalities would be able to establish a sales tax rate of 7 percent on marijuana products in the first year of the bill’s passage – and that would climb to 25 percent by the fifth year.

Critics of the bill claim it would benefit the marijuana industry more than those who need or use the drug. Roseanne Scott, the senior director at the Drug Policy Alliance in New Jersey, said the bill is “bad” because it wouldn’t allow people to grow marijuana at home (which would make the drug more affordable), wouldn’t direct funds toward struggling communities and wouldn’t expunge criminal records of people previously arrested on marijuana charges, reports.

Scutari, who chairs the Judiciary Committee, said he is open to amending the bill, which has been sent to the committee for review.

Follow @ClaireSasko on Twitter.