On February 22, 2021, Governor Murphy signed into law The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory, Enforcement Assistance, and Marketplace Modernization Act, regulating cannabis use and possession for adults 21 years and older. The ratification of the bill follows a protracted legislative logjam since Election Day, when New Jersey voters overwhelmingly approved a mandate to provide the infrastructure for the legalization of cannabis in the state. The legalization immediately decriminalizes certain amounts of marijuana and hashish statewide. Meanwhile, the recreational production and sale remains subject to regulatory schemes not yet enacted.
Earlier today, Thursday, December 17, 2020, the NJ Legislature passed an historic bill legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana for adults use.
The 240-page Assembly Bill 21 passed by a 49-24 vote with 6 abstentions in the Assembly and a 23-17 vote in the state Senate.
The final bill creates a 5-member Cannabis Regulatory Commission to oversee the new market, as well as the existing medical marijuana market.
Licenses for cultivators are capped at 37 for the first 24 months following the bill’s enactment.
Cannabis sales will be taxed at 7% – which includes the 6.625% sales tax on retail sales, and a tax on cultivators, which adds up to a 7% rate in total.
70% of sales tax revenue and all the money from a tax on cultivators are dedicated toward legal aid, health care education and other social services for lower-income, minority communities.
The remaining 30% in sales tax revenue will go to fund the Cannabis Regulatory Committee and to help fund local police departments for the training of “Drug Recognition Experts”.
Per NJBIZ, employers must have a “reasonable suspicion” that their workers are high on the job in order to conduct a drug test. And the test must be accompanied by an assessment from a Drug Recognition Expert to ensure the person’s behaviors match someone who’s high.
That would allow workers to use marijuana while off the clock, just as with alcohol.
Separately, another measure, Senate Bill 2535, was passed which ends arrests for possession of up to 6 ounces of cannabis, while Senate Bill 3256 will also lower penalties for possession of psilocybin (i.e., mushrooms).
Duane Morris attorneys in offices throughout the U.S. have extensive experience with the wide array of issues attendant to legal cannabis business activities, including real estate development and leasing; licensing for cultivation, processing and dispensing; litigation; banking and finance; raising and deploying capital; protecting intellectual property; public company representation and SEC filings; land use and zoning; healthcare and research; and taxation.
For more information on this blog post, do not hesitate to contact Brad A. Molotsky or Paul Josephson or any of the other Duane Morris attorneys you regularly engage with.