New Jersey lawmakers advance cannabis bill, but differ on details
New Jersey lawmakers have advanced legislation to establish a new recreational marijuana marketplace, which voters overwhelmingly approved on the ballot earlier this month.
The Assembly Appropriations Committee and the Senate Budget Committee passed legislation on Thursday, but the changes mean the two Democrat-led chambers will have to iron out their differences before going to a floor vote.
Lawmakers have been negotiating over amending the measure since it stalled last week. Among the key changes in the bill are the addition of an excise tax. The bill calls for a tax of one-third of 1% on marijuana sales. The state’s sales tax of more than 6.6% will also apply.
Social justice groups wanted an excise tax on the product which would largely go to communities impacted by the war on drugs.
The issue that lawmakers say that they wish that they could figure out – but can’t fix – is that there is not a quick field test law enforcement can do to determine if someone is under the influence of marijuana when they are behind the wheel on or the job. Current tests can only determine if THC has been in a person’s blood in the last 20 days, and if marijuana is legal, it could make ascertaining intoxication impossible.
“It is no simple test to show specifically that someone is under the influence at that time unless they really did just consume in their car before they went to work and you're able to get them, so that one metabolite will only be there a short period of time after consumption,” said state Sen. Mike Testa.
A floor vote was scheduled for Monday, but it has been postponed.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.