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Legislative Dems to discuss marijuana bill this morning

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Democratic lawmakers will meet Tuesday morning to discuss adult-use marijuana legalization.
Democratic lawmakers will meet Tuesday morning to discuss adult-use marijuana legalization. - ()

The entire Senate and Assembly Democratic caucus are scheduled to hold a meeting Tuesday morning aimed at ironing out the text of a marijuana bill ahead of a proposed Oct. 29 vote, according to Sen. Ron Rice, D-28th District.

Rice, who chairs the Legislative Black Caucus and has stood as a staunch opponent to the legalization of marijuana for recreational use, said lawmakers this morning will try to hammer out how to go forward with legalizing recreational marijuana.

At a September state Senate session, Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, told reporters that he wants an Oct. 29 vote in both houses on an adult-use bill. Gov. Phil Murphy, in a Facebook town hall the next week, expressed confidence that such a vote would be possible.

The advocacy group New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform posted about the meeting on Facebook yesterday, urging the public to contact Gov. Phil Murphy’s office and lawmakers to demand legislative action.

At issue has been how to tax adult-use weed, with lawmakers debating a higher tax rate that would bring in more revenue to the state, or a lower tax rate that would snuff out unlawful street-dealing.

Last week, Sen. Nicholas Scutari, D-22nd District, told NJBIZ that the option is still on the table to phase in a tax rate over several years.

Scutari, one of the state Legislature’s key advocates for legalizing recreational marijuana and a primary sponsor of the 120-page bill, said he still believes New Jersey’s cannabis tax rate can be the “lowest in the country.”

Different drafts of the bill have called for a tax rate as low as 10 percent, or for the rate to be increased to 25 percent over a four-year period. Last week Scutari said lawmakers have not agreed on a formal rate.

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Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel J. Munoz

Daniel Munoz covers politics and state government for NJBIZ. You can contact him at dmunoz@njbiz.com.

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