TRENTON - A bill introduced in the State House Monday would allow recreational marijuana smoking and growing in New Jersey.
State Sen. Nick Scutari says he's never smoked pot, but he thinks anyone 21 or older who wants to should be able to.
His bill, introduced today in the Senate, would let the state's division of Alcoholic Beverage Control set up and regulate a system allowing licensed growers and retailers to make and sell the drug. Under the legislation, individuals would be able to own up to 1 ounce.
"You wouldn't be able to go to work, you wouldn't be able to drive a car under the influence of marijuana," Scutari says. "Any of the things you can't do while drinking now, you wouldn't be able to do while under the influence of marijuana."
Under the bill, New Jersey residents would be allowed to grow up to six plants for their own use. Marijuana advocates say the move would be a much-needed reform of the state's drug laws.
"A grown up, reasonable conversation about marijuana, and the adult use of cannabis is long overdue in this state," says advocate Jay Lassiter.
Gov. Chris Christie has said he would not sign a bill legalizing marijuana. "If the majority of the people in this state want that, then they've got to elect a different governor," he says.
Scutari said the governor and other opponents may be swayed by the numbers. His bill would tax 7 percent of pot sales and send most of that money to transportation improvements. That could be an attractive alternative to raising the gas tax.