New Jersey Marijuana Bills Hit Snag Over Underage Penalties As Legalization Enactment Date Nears

MJ moment

There are only days left before a New Jersey voter-approved constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana goes into effect—but the governor’s concerns over provisions of a separate bill to decriminalize cannabis possession is causing a snag. Gov. Phil Murphy (D) has generally embraced the pending marijuana policy changes under the dual proposals to implement legalization and decriminalize possession. But language in the latter bill that would remove penalties for people under the age of 21 for possession of marijuana is giving the governor pause about signing off on the legislative package. Murphy described the issue as “technical” in nature at a press briefing on Monday. That said, he stressed that there are “important things we’re trying to wrinkle out” with the decriminalization legislation. “I had very constructive—and I want to give them a shout out for their continuing spirit of cooperation—good conversations with the senate president and the speaker,” he said. “Their teams and ours are trying to iron through those as efficiently as we can.” According to Politico, Murphy wants to sign the measures to legalize retail sales and decriminalize cannabis at the same time, and so isn’t interested in approving the commercialization bill while waiting for lawmakers to address his concerns after the new year. The technical issue involves how the decrim law would apply to those under 21. As written, penalties would be removed for kids as well as adults. Murphy wants it to be like to alcohol: Legal for adults to possess but penalties for those under 21. — Matt Friedman (@MattFriedmanNJ) December 28, 2020 In general, the decriminalization proposal would remove criminal and civil penalties for possession of up to six ounces of marijuana. While Murphy is in favor of that policy change, the legislation as passed doesn’t maintain penalties for people under 21, and there’s…

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