New Jersey Lawmakers Pull Cannabis Regulation Bill from Hearings at Last Minute

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On Thursday, a New Jersey Senate committee again advanced cannabis decriminalization legislation, voting overwhelmingly in favor of amendments to the bill. But Senate and Assembly committees declined to debate the bill to implement legalization, following voters’ approval on Election Day of a ballot measure to do so. 

As Cannabis Wire recently reported, the first hearing on the implementation bill revealed several divisions as to how, exactly, the adult use industry should be regulated and taxed, and where that revenue should go.

Still, lawmakers briefly discussed cannabis on Thursday, with a focus on the decriminalization bill. Senator Paul Sarlo, chair of the Budget and Appropriations committee, started that portion of the hearing by noting that the legislation had some significant amendments. Notably, one of these amendments would lessen penalties for possession of psilocybin. 

On Thursday afternoon, the American Civil Liberties of New Jersey Tweeted that the legislature had stricken S21/A21 from the day’s hearing agendas, calling it “the right move.” 

“We’re hopeful that today’s move means the Legislature is considering amendments to strengthen the racial and social justice components of S21/A21,” ACLU NJ campaign strategist Ami Kachalia told Cannabis Wire. “Along with our partners, we’re continuing to advocate for a bill that will fulfill the vision of legalization that voters want to see – one that includes reinvestment in the communities most harmed by prohibition, a commitment to building equity in the new industry, and funding for expungement.”

Cannabis Wire asked Sen. Nicholas Scutari, one of the most vocal proponents of legalization and sponsor of the implementation legislation, why the bill was shelved from committee hearings Thursday. 

“We are still working out the details of the bill. This is major legislation and it is imperative that the bill we put up for vote is the best bill for New Jersey,” Scutari told Cannabis Wire

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