New Jersey moves closer to recreational marijuana market

New Jersey is moving closer to opening its recreational marijuana market with plans slated for the first public meeting with the state’s new cannabis commission, Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday.

The commission must establish regulations for the new recreational marijuana marketplace that voters ratified in an overwhelming vote in November. Murphy, a Democrat, said in February he thinks the market could be up and running in about six months.

The meeting will bet at 2 p.m. Monday and take place virtually. The public can view the meeting on the commission’s website. But it’s unclear whether the public will be able to comment or otherwise participate.

A message seeking comment was left with the governor’s office.

The commission’s meeting comes after several years of lawmakers’ and Murphy’s efforts to legalize recreational marijuana. Voters approved a constitutional amendment last November by a 2-to-1 margin, followed by lawmakers passing legislation in December.

It took until February for Murphy to sign the bill, and only after the Democrat-led Legislature tweaked the measure to accommodate changes the governor wanted.

That tweak made underage possession of alcohol and marijuana subject to a written warnings that escalate to include parental notification and a referral to community services upon subsequent violations, but even that proved problematic.

That bill barred authorities from notifying parents of minors after a first violation, spurring an outcry from parents and lawmakers. A "fix" bill was passed and signed to require parental notification.

There were other delays. After pressure from the NAACP, which objected to the governor’s failure to appoint a Black man to the five-member commission, Murphy then appointed Charles Barker, an aide to Sen. Cory Booker.

Under the legalization law, it’s no longer a violation of state law to have 6 ounces (170 grams) or less of marijuana or about three-fifths of an ounce (17 grams) of hashish. It’s not a crime any longer to be under the influence of marijuana or hashish, or to possess marijuana paraphernalia or to be in possession of it while operating a car. The state still has laws against driving under the influence of drugs.



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