New Jersey could become the 11th state to join Alaska in ending cannabis prohibition after Assembly and Senate committees voted earlier this week in favor of companion bills that would legalize marijuana and expunge prior cannabis convictions.
A full vote of each chamber is scheduled for Monday.
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved the legalization bill 6-4 with one member abstaining, while the Assembly Appropriations Committee voted 6-1 with two abstaining members after amending the bill to broaden expungement provisions and alter the cannabis tax structure.
The bill would allow adults 21 and older to purchase, possess and consume certain amounts of cannabis. Also, marijuana deliveries and social consumption sites would be allowed while home cultivation would not. Additionally, a commission of five members would be tasked with studying the effects of legalization in New Jersey, ensuring social equity in the industry, and approving licenses for cultivators, processors, retailers and wholesalers.
The current bill is expected to be voted on in the full state Legislature next week.
New Jersey lawmakers also approved a medical marijuana bill that wood expand the program and revise the current laws to allow patients to certify they qualify for medical marijuana only once a year instead of every 90 days. Additionally, the bill would gradually raise the allowance of medical marijuana that can be purchased per month from 2 ounces to 2.5 ounces and then 3 ounces after July, while those on hospice care or diagnosed with a terminal illness would have no limit.
New Jersey would join the states of Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington as the only states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Washington, D.C. and the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. possession, have also legalized recreational marijuana.