New Jersey moved closer to legalizing cannabis Monday after a nearly four-hour hearing.
The legislation now moves to the floor of the state Senate and Assembly. A voting session is scheduled for later this month.
The Garden State would join 10 other states and the District of Columbia if it legalizes recreational cannabis. More than 30 states, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, already have medical programs.
With legalization looking more and more likely, here’s what you need to know about the proposed bill.
Who can smoke pot legally under the proposed legislation?
Senate Bill 2703 would make recreational cannabis legal for adults 21 years and older. It would prohibit adults from buying and giving pot to anyone under the legal age, including children with medical conditions. Those patients would need permits under the state’s medicinal program.
Where can you buy it?
Adults will need to find designated retailers to buy their legal pot. These dispensaries must hold a state-issued Class 4 Marijuana license. Different permits will be required for growers, wholesalers and testing facilities.
How much can I buy?
Individuals can purchase up to 1 ounce or less of marijuana, 16 ounces of marijuana-infused products in solid form, 72 ounces in liquid form and 7 grams of cannabis concentrate.
Can I smoke in public?
When can I buy pot legally in New Jersey?
The bill is not a done deal, which means there is no hard launch date for implementation. The bill will now advance to the floors of the state Senate and General Assembly for final voting. If it passes in both houses, Gov. Phil Murphy must sign it into law. He has been a strong advocate for legalizing recreational cannabis and is expected to approve the bill once it arrives on his desk. A voting session is scheduled for later this month.
How much will it cost?
As is often the case, taxing legal cannabis remains a sticking point in New Jersey. An early version of the bill called for a graduated tax that could eventually top out at 25 percent for purchases. A newer version called for just 12 percent tax but allowed for municipalities to apply for up to a 2 percent additional tax on cannabis. Lawmakers will likely battle over taxation during the next vote.
I have a previous arrest. Will my record be expunged?
Yes! The bill calls for expediting expungements for people with cannabis-related criminal backgrounds.
What happens to the medical cannabis program?
A separate bill under consideration, dubbed Jake’s Law after a 7-year-old who died of brain cancer, would expand the current program and allow for more growers and dispensaries. Patients would be allowed to buy up to 2.5 ounces a month from January to July. After July, patients could purchase up to 3 ounces per month. People in hospice care would have no limits.
I live in a different state. Can I buy pot in New Jersey and travel home with it?
While it might be tempting to cross the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, pick up some weed and bring it back to Pennsylvania or Delaware, don’t do it. Crossing state lines remains illegal even in regions where multiple states have legalized recreational pot. Thank the federal government for that one - cannabis is still considered a Schedule 1 drug by the DEA and, therefore, crossing borders with the plant can get you locked up.
There is one caveat, however. Patients registered under a different state’s medical cannabis program will be allowed to travel outside state lines with cannabis.
Can I grow my own plant?
Strangely enough, the answer is no for now. New Jersey would become the second state, next to Washington, to prohibit people from growing their owns plants.
What about edibles, tinctures, oils, etc.?
Yep, those would all be included in the proposed legislation.