Plans to legalize marijuana in New Jersey ground to a halt last year amidst a disagreement between Gov. Murphy and legislative leaders over taxes and a few other issues. However, a compromise deal on the key sticking points has now put the legalization plans back on course.
We reported at the end of last month that a new tax proposal had given cannabis legalization plans a breath of life. That proposal sought to provide a middle ground between the Governor who wanted a higher sales tax and Sweeney, the State Senate leader, who was adamant anything higher than 12 percent was unacceptable.
In the deal that has been reached, marijuana would be taxed by weight instead of the earlier plan to impose a sales tax. This new plan will insulate the state from witnessing a drop in tax revenue if marijuana prices eventually reduce as has been the case in other states where marijuana has been legal for several years.
The second major bone of contention that has also been reportedly resolved under the new deal has to do with the manner in which the marijuana industry will be regulated. Previously, the legislative leaders had wanted a separate commission to take charge of overseeing most aspects of the new industry. However, the Governor was uncomfortable with that proposal.
Under the new arrangement, an independent commission will still be set up to oversee the cannabis industry. The change in this regard is that the state governor will have the power to appoint three of the five individuals who will constitute the Cannabis Regulatory Commission.
Legislators are also working on a bill to expunge cannabis convictions from the criminal records of New Jersey residents. This law will help to address some of the historical wrongs that were committed against racial minorities, such as African-Americans, who were unduly targeted during the war on drugs that lasted decades.
Once that expungement bill is in place, the Governor, State Senate leader and the leader of the state Assembly will have plenty of work to do to mobilize votes among the legislators so that the marijuana legalization bill passes in both Houses before it can reach the desk of the Governor to be signed into law.
Now that the bickering seems to have come to an end, there is widespread hope across the industry that an enabling law will soon be passed so that a roadmap to the implementation of that law can be known to all concerned. Golden Developing Solutions Inc. (OTC: DVLP) and Green Growth Brands Inc. (CSE: GGB) (OTCQB: GGBXF) wish New Jersey a smooth path to legalization now that the major stumbling blocks have been addressed.
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