NJ Governor Murphy & Legislative Leadership Announce Agreement On Outlines Of Legalization Of Adult-Use Marijuana

Agreement Reached on Tax Rate, Regulatory Structure, and Expungement Provisions

NEW JERSEY: Governor Phil Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin, Senator Scutari, and Assemblywoman Quijano today announced an agreement on the broad outlines of legislation to legalize adult-use marijuana in New Jersey.

“Legalizing adult-use marijuana is a monumental step to reducing disparities in our criminal justice system,” said Governor Murphy. “After months of hard work and thoughtful negotiations, I’m thrilled to announce an agreement with my partners in the Legislature on the broad outlines of adult-use marijuana legislation. I believe that this legislation will establish an industry that brings fairness and economic opportunity to all of our communities, while promoting public safety by ensuring a safe product and allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on serious crimes.

“This plan will allow for the adult use of cannabis in a responsible way,” said Senate President Sweeney. “It will create a strictly regulated system that permits adults to purchase limited amounts of marijuana for personal use. It will bring marijuana out of the underground market so that it can be controlled, regulated and taxed, just as alcohol has been since the end of Prohibition. This plan will also advance important social justice reforms to help reverse the discriminatory impact that drug laws have had on diverse communities.”

“The agreement reached to legalize adult-use cannabis is the result of incredibly hard work by many people over many months,” said Speaker Coughlin. “Getting to this point wasn’t easy. We talked and we negotiated in good faith, but most importantly, we listened. I want to thank Governor Murphy and Senate President Sweeney for their tireless efforts and willingness to compromise so we could put forth the most responsible legislation possible. I believe this new, regulated industry will help boost our economy, but I’m particularly proud of the critical social justice components included in the bill.”

“The prohibition on marijuana has long been a failed policy,” said Senator Nicholas Scutari. “This plan will bring an end to the adverse effects our outdated drug laws have had on the residents of our state. As a regulated product legalized marijuana will be safe and controlled. It is time to legalize adult use marijuana in New Jersey and this is a well crafted legal reform that will advance social policy in a fair and effective way.”

“After months of discussions and debate, I am proud that we have come to an agreement on a bill to legalize adult-use cannabis,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano. “We learned from stakeholders and listened to opponents. The final product is fair, responsible and focused on social justice. I want to thank Speaker Coughlin for his leadership in the Assembly and express my gratitude to Governor Murphy and Senate President Sweeney for partnering with us in this daunting endeavor.”

Under the terms of the agreement, adult-use marijuana will be subject to an excise tax of $42 per ounce, which will be imposed when marijuana is cultivated. In addition, municipalities that are home to a cultivator or manufacturer will receive the revenue from a 2% tax on the product within their jurisdiction.  Municipalities that are home to a wholesaler will receive the revenue from a 1% tax on the product within their jurisdiction, while municipalities that are home to a retailer will receive the revenue from a 3% tax on the product within their jurisdiction.

Adult-use marijuana will be governed by a Cannabis Regulatory Commission, composed of five members. Three members will be appointed by the Governor, with the Governor’s initial appointments to serve terms of at least four years and not be subject to Senate confirmation. Two other members will be appointed by the Governor, upon the recommendations of the Speaker and Senate President. The Commission will promulgate all regulations to govern the industry and will oversee the applications for licensing of adult-use marijuana dispensaries.

Provisions in the bill establish an expedited expungement process for individuals convicted of low-level marijuana offenses, and a virtual expungement process that will automatically prevent certain marijuana offenses from being taken into account in certain areas such as education, housing, and occupational licensing. Additionally, there are a number of provisions that aim to ensure broad-based participation in the industry for Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs), low- and middle-income individuals, and disadvantaged communities across the state.

Final text of the legislation will be released in the coming days, subject to pending technical edits.

 

New Jersey: Governor Signs Hemp Cultivation Bill Into Law

NEW JERSEY: Governor Phil Murphy has signed legislation into law permitting the state to establish a pilot program to assess and promote the cultivation of industrial hemp.

Assembly Bill 1330/Senate Bill 3145 authorizes the Department of Agriculture to partner with Rutgers University “to study and promote the cultivation of industrial hemp to the maximum extent permitted by federal law.” Over 40 states have adopted similar legislation.

Federal law permits states to engage in limited hemp production. Pending federal provisions in the Senate-version of H.R. 2: The Agriculture Improvement Act of 2018 (aka the 2018 Farm Bill) for the first time amends the federal Controlled Substances Act of 1970 so that industrial hemp plants containing no more than 0.3 percent THC are no longer classified as a schedule I controlled substance. (See page 1182, Section 12608: ‘Conforming changes to controlled substances act.’).

Earlier this month, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “guaranteed” that the hemp-related provisions would remain in the bill following the reconciliation process.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

 

Murphy Administration Seeking Up To Six New Dispensaries To Expand Access To Medicinal Marijuana

NEW JERSEY: The Murphy Administration today announced it is seeking up to six new applicants to operate medicinal marijuana dispensaries — two each in the northern, central and southern regions of New Jersey.

“We look forward to the opening of six new dispensaries so we can ensure that all qualifying patients who want access to medicinal marijuana can have it,’’ said Governor Phil Murphy. “Due to the steps that Commissioner Elnahal and I have taken since January, we have seen the addition of 10,000 new patients. Accordingly, we have to expand the number of businesses who are growing product and serving patients.”

Screenshot 2018-07-16 09.45.16Currently, more than 26,000 patients, 1,000 caregivers and 700 physicians are participating in the program.

“As we strive to make the program more responsive to the needs of patients, caregivers and Alternative Treatment Centers (ATCs), we recognize the need to grow the industry and create more options for patients,” said Health Commissioner Shereef Elnahal, M.D.

A Request for Applications (RFA), which was noticed in today’s New Jersey Register and published on the Department’s website, notes that applicants would have to operate a dispensary and facilities that do cultivating and manufacturing and provide evidence of site control and verification of the approval of the governing body in the municipality where they intend to locate. The business can be either nonprofit or for profit and is also required to submit a business plan including a budget detailing revenues and expenses over a five-year period. The RFA is available here.

Applicants can submit applications for more than one region of the state but must submit a separate application for each region. The fee for applying is $20,000, although $18,000 of that fee will be returned to unsuccessful applicants.

A mandatory pre-application conference is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 9 at the Department of Health headquarters in Trenton. The purpose of the conference is to give potential applicants a chance to have questions answered about the process. The Department will electronically accept questions until 4 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 7 from all potential applicants via email at mmpquestions@doh.nj.gov. Applications are due Friday, Aug. 31, 2018. Applicants chosen to proceed in the permitting process will be announced Nov. 1, 2018.

The six currently operating ATCs are not eligible to participate in this application process. Existing ATCs already have the opportunity to add additional sites for cultivating, manufacturing and dispensing. Additional opportunities to apply to build cultivating, manufacturing and dispensing sites will be available in the future.

The Commissioner is also working to expand physician participation in the program. Last week, he conducted two grand rounds lectures with 300 physicians at teaching hospitals to dispel myths and reduce stigma in the medical community. Although more than 100 new doctors have signed up since the expansion began, only 700 of the 28,000 licensed physicians in New Jersey are currently registered to participate in the Department of Health’s Medicinal Marijuana program.