Legalization of marijuana may be on the horizon

Posted: Updated:

A deal to legalize recreational marijuana in New Jersey may be one step closer to becoming a reality.

Reports from multiple outlets this weekend indicate New Jersey legislators hope to vote by the end of this month on a proposal that would make marijuana legal for adult use.

Gov. Phil Murphy has long-wanted marijuana to be legal and campaigned on the issue in 2017. But his attempts to legalize marijuana have so far, fallen short.

"By legalizing adult use marijuana, first and foremost, we can reverse the inequality and unfairness left from years of failed drug policies, and shift public safety resources to where they can do the most good," Murphy said during his State of the State address in January.

Murphy, state Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin had clashed about how to tax legal marijuana. Now it seems like they've reached an agreement.

Gov. Murphy planned in last year's budget for a 25 percent sales tax on marijuana. Sweeney planned for about 10 percent.

The deal would tax marijuana at $42 per ounce. They've also agreed the governor will have more of a say in setting up the regulatory commission that will administer the details of legal marijuana sales.

Key issues remain even if the marijuana deal goes through. Police have said they don't currently have the tools or training to determine if a driver is legally impaired due to marijuana use.

Murphy said he wants the records of those charged with marijuana crimes expunged, but it is unclear what would happen to those currently in prison on non-violent drug charges stemming from the sale of marijuana.

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