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Senate Committee Conducts Hearing on Public Referendum to Legalize Adult Use Marijuana

Trenton – A Senate committee today held a public hearing on the initiative seeking voter approval to legalize adult-use marijuana in New Jersey, taking the constitutionally required action in advance of the planned vote by the Senate on Monday.


The Senate resolution, SCR-183, sponsored by Senator Nicholas Scutari and Senate President Steve Sweeney, would put the question on the 2020 ballot after gaining majority votes by both houses of the Legislature in two consecutive years or by votes of three-fifths this year in the Senate and Assembly.


“This will put the issue into the hands of the voters,” said Senator Scutari. “I believe the public understands how counterproductive and unfair it is to arrest and prosecute people for using marijuana. We can do away with the laws that fall the hardest on minorities and create a regulatory system that ensures safe use of cannabis products by adults.”


The Cannabis Regulatory Commission, created to oversee the medical cannabis program, would also oversee the new adult use market, according to the resolution. It would limit the tax to the state sales tax, with an optional additional surcharge of up to two percent by host municipalities.   


“We will now move forward with a plan that helps correct social and legal injustices that have had a discriminatory impact on communities of color,” said Senator Sweeney. “I expect to get the support in the Legislature for a public referendum and I believe the voters will endorse it. We can make real progress towards social justice at the same time that cannabis is made safe and legal.”


The hearing was held by the Senate Commerce Committee.