During a combined meeting on November 26, the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee and Assembly Appropriations Committee released legislation that would make New Jersey  the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana.

The “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act,” S-2703 (Scutari, Sweeney)/A-4497 (Quijano/Holley/Timberlake/McKnight) would legalize the possession and personal use of one ounce or less of marijuana for people at least 21 years old. It would also establish a process to expunge previous criminal convictions for possessing or distributing small amounts of marijuana.

The measure would create a Division of Marijuana Enforcement and establish a licensing structure. It would place a 12 percent state tax on the commercial marijuana industry, while allowing municipalities to assess a 2 percent excise tax on cannabis businesses that they allow within their borders.

Since its introduction in June, the legislation has undergone extensive revision. A new draft, dated November 20, has circulated among news media. However, the version released by the committees yesterday was further expanded and was not available electronically at publication time.

Sen. Nicholas Scutari, a primary sponsor of S-2703, said the legislation remains a work in progress and will be changed before it comes to a vote in both houses of the Legislature.

In addition to S-2703/A-4497, the committees also released legislation that would revise New Jersey’s 2009 “Compassionate Use Medical Marijuana Act.”

NJSBA is monitoring the legislation and will apprise members of further developments.