In New Jersey, lawmakers are abandoning plans of legalizing marijuana through the legislature and are now looking to enter the proposal on the 2020 ballot for the voters to decide.
On Monday, President of the Senate, Steve Sweeny and the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Scutari (D) in a press release said that their efforts to gather more support for the measure did not bear any fruit which is why they have filed a motion to allow New Jersey residents to vote on the matter in a referendum.
In their press release, the leaders said that they are seeking for approval to enter the measure of legalizing adult-use cannabis on the 2020 ballot. The legislation seeking for a public referendum was introduced in the legislature on Monday. The proposal will lead to the establishment of a system that permits people to buy and use cannabis recreationally and responsibly.
They further said that the measure would make it possible for the state to control and ensure that retail outlets are selling safe products. It would also limit marijuana sales to adults only. The state of New Jersey would also be in a position to impose sales tax on marijuana sales.
According to media reports, the plan is for the referendum proposal to be approved by the legislature and set the ballot measure for voters in the 2020 general election. The two leaders are positive that the Senate, Assembly, and voters will approve the proposal.
In a tweet, Governor Phil Murphy said that he is disappointed that the Senate was unable to approve adult-use marijuana. He further noted that the failure would lead to the weekly arrest of about 600 people, the majority of whom will comprise members of the black community. He also said that he is hopeful that the New Jersey residents will approve the ballot measure.
The negotiations for legalizing recreational marijuana went on for months, after which Sweeney noted that legalization would have to be done through the ballot.
The resolution calling for the referendum does not offer a detailed description of the outlook of the proposed market for marijuana. The proposal only states that persons above the age of 21 would be allowed to buy and use weed from licensed retail outlets. And, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission of New Jersey would be responsible for regulating the program. The proposal also suggests that a sales tax would be imposed on marijuana sales.
In the ballot, the voters would be asked if they approve the constitutional amendment legalizing a controlled form of recreational cannabis. The draft question would also state that only people who are 21 years and above are allowed to use marijuana and that a state commission would oversee the cannabis program, as well as the market.
In a press release, the Assembly Speaker, Craig Coughlin, said that the legislation for putting the recreational marijuana question to the voter would be voted on by the Senate.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a prohibitionist group, celebrated after the legislature announced plans of giving up on the legalization. They said that they would invest in discouraging New Jersey residents from supporting the ballot legalization measure.
Experts are of the view that this failure to legalize marijuana legislatively may have come as a disappointment to the cannabis industry, including entities like Sproutly Canada Inc. (CSE: SPR) (OTCQB: SRUTF) (FRA: 38G) and Marijuana Company of America Inc. (OTCQB: MCOA), that had hoped that the people of New Jersey would soon enjoy the many benefits of marijuana, such as employment opportunities.
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