It is possible that New Jersey could become one of the first states to tax and regulated marijuana in a manner similar to tobacco – creating one of the most liberal marijuana laws in the United States.
Earlier last week, State Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll introduced a piece of legislation (A4193) aimed at legalizing a recreational cannabis market that would operate under the same restrictions the state already has in place for people who buy cigarettes. The lawmaker's goal is make legal weed available in supermarkets and convienience stores, giving cannabis users the same access to the herb as smokers have for their daily vice.
“To me it’s just not a big deal. It’s already ubiquitous. Anybody who thinks this is somehow going to increase the availability of marijuana has never been 19,” Carroll told Politico. “If that’s the case, then what’s the big deal about having it available at the local 7-Eleven?”
The proposed law really digs into true foundation of what it means to repeal prohibition by not only legalizing the leaf for adults 19-years-old and older, which is the legal age to buy cigarettes in New Jersey, but it would also serve as a reform to the state’s criminal justice system by expunging the records of those people with previous marijuana offenses.
“This bill would legalize marijuana by removing all criminal liability associated with marijuana from the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, as well as its regulation as a controlled dangerous substance under the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act,” the bill reads.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this development is that Assemblyman Carroll is often considered the “Most Conservative” member of the New Jersey Legislature. Yet, the lawmaker seems to have a realistic grip on what is means to truly regulate feel good substances for the greater benefit of society. In addition to his latest marijuana-related bill, Carroll recently proposed legislation aimed at reducing the legal drinking age.
“If you’re old enough to make the determination you want to enlist in the Marines, you’re old enough to determine if you want to have a beer,” Carroll said.
Although the bill may not have a fighting chance at surviving the upcoming session, some lawmakers feel that it will either be Carroll’s proposal or one similar that finally infiltrates the tighten sphincters of both chambers and puts a statewide recreational marijuana law into action.
Governor Chris Christie, a vocal opposing force to the marijuana movement, has only one year left in office before he is replaced, hopefully, by a political figure with a bit more nerve for progressive reform.
Lawmakers want to take the opportunity to get a leg up on the issue.
“We would like to get the ball rolling, even with this governor and even if he vetoes it, the choice then could be made to put it on the ballot through the Legislature or set the groundwork for the next administration," said New Jersey Assemblyman Reed Gusciora. “I think it’s only a matter of time.”