New Jersey's road to regulate legal marijuana off to a bumpy start
The chairman of the state Senate's judiciary committee clashed with Republicans and fellow Democrats during a hearing Monday.
Progressive groups say the bill to regulate legal marijuana doesn't do enough to invest in communities. The bill was introduced by Sen. Nicholas Scutari.
The state Legislature must establish the framework for New Jersey's new marijuana industry, but it wasn't clear sailing at the hearing.
"Well you can't drive around drinking beer so now you're saying you can drive around smoking a joint," says Sen. Mike Doherty. "If you say it louder doesn't make it true."
Longtime activist Ed Forchion, also known as NJ Weedman, is opposed to the bill.
"Sen. Scutari's bill is nothing but a corporatization of legalization," says Forchion. "This is not legalization. Legalization would include homegrown. Legalization would allow for people like me who are already in the existing marijuana distribution system to be legal."
Sen. Scutari says in a statement that all revenue from legal weed will go to ending systemic racism in the criminal justice system.
Forchion says lawmakers are trying to steal from the existing marijuana market and give the money to the new age cannabis industry they are creating.
A separate bill that would decriminalize marijuana passed the committee. Senate President Steve Sweeney is asking the state's attorney general to order a stop to all marijuana arrests and marijuana prosecutions.