New Jersey recreational cannabis bill advances, but differences remain

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Two key New Jersey legislative budget committees advanced a recreational cannabis implementation measure, but differences in the Assembly and Senate versions must be resolved before a full-floor vote.

New Jersey lawmakers are moving rapidly since residents overwhelmingly voted to legalize adult use on Election Day, setting into motion the formation of a billion-dollar market.

But the differences could delay passage. Lawmakers had hoped a bill would be passed next week and sent to Gov. Phil Murphy’s desk.

Lawmakers said they must get a measure signed before the constitutional amendment passed by voters takes effect Jan. 1.

Here are some of the key differences between the measures passed Thursday by the Assembly Appropriations Committee and the Senate Budget Committee, according to the Associated Press:

  • Cultivation licenses: The Senate version would eliminate caps, while the Assembly bill would set limits at 37, up from 28 in an earlier version. Regardless, experts are generally bullish on the grower opportunities in New Jersey.
  • Transition period: The Assembly bill would lengthen the transition to a full, recreational marijuana market from 18 months to two years.
  • The Senate measure seeks to allocate 70% of the sales tax revenue to community programs, according to

Lawmakers have agreed to add a small, one-third of a 1% tax on top of the state’s 6.625% sales tax, according to the Associated Press.

The Cannabis Regulatory Commission also could implement an optional additional excise tax on growers to support social equity programs aimed at narrowing racial disparities stemming from the war on drugs, according to media reports.

However, some social justice advocates say the excise tax should be required.

The original bill also called for the state regulatory cannabis commission to give licensing priority to businesses owned by minorities, women and disabled veterans.