New Jersey lawmakers unveil legislation proposing legalization of marijuana

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey lawmakers on Wednesday unveiled their latest proposal to legalize recreational marijuana for people 21 and over.

A joint Democrat-led Assembly and Senate committee is expected to discuss the measures Monday.

It's the latest draft in a long-running effort to legalize recreational cannabis in New Jersey, where despite support from Democratic leaders, including Gov. Phil Murphy, the effort has stalled.

The measure allows for legalizing an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older - similar to previous drafts.

Changes in the new bill include a 12 percent tax rate on cannabis. Previous version of the bill included a phased-in rate that climbed from 7 percent to 25 percent.

The 12 percent rate includes the 6.625 percent sales tax, according to the draft released Wednesday. The proposal also permits local governments to apply up to a 2 percent tax on cannabis.

The measure also sets up a five-person cannabis commission charged with regulating the substance.

The members would be full time and receive a $125,000 per year salary, while the chairman would get up to $141,000 annually.

The members would serve for five-year terms and would be appointed by the governor, with approval from the state Senate. Two members would be appointed on the recommendation of the Senate president and Assembly speaker.

The legislation calls for expediting expungements for people with marijuana-related criminal backgrounds.

Murphy supports legalization, but his office didn't respond to the new legislation Wednesday.

His office had earlier said the tax rates could be negotiated but also cited the regulatory commission as a sticking point.

Ten states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational cannabis.