NJ Assembly Bill A1348 promises Recreational Adult Use Marijuana in a Diverse Open Marketplace

Currently pending before the State of NJ Assembly is Assembly Bill A1348.  A1348 if passed would legalize possession and personal use of small amounts of marijuana for persons age 21 and over; creates Division of Marijuana Enforcement and a licensing structure for the State of NJ.  Among the more interesting parts of the 60+ page bill are the legislatures findings which states that:

The NJ State Legislature finds and declares that:

a. It is the intent of the people of New Jersey to adopt a new approach to our marijuana policies by taxing, controlling and legalizing marijuana like alcohol for adults;

b. It is the intent of the people of New Jersey that the provisions of this act will prevent the sale or distribution of marijuana to persons under 21 years of age;

c. This act is designed to eliminate the problems caused by the unregulated manufacture, distribution, and use of marijuana within New Jersey;

d. This act will divert funds from marijuana sales from going to illegal enterprises, gangs, and cartels;

e. New Jersey law enforcement officers made over 24,000 arrests for marijuana possession in 2012, more than in the previous 20 years;

f. In 2012, a person was arrested for marijuana possession in New Jersey approximately every 22 minutes;

g. Black New Jerseyans are nearly three times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white New Jerseyans, despite similar usage rates;

h. Marijuana possession arrests constituted three out of every five drug arrests in New Jersey in 2012;

i. New Jersey spends approximately $127 million per year on marijuana possession enforcement costs;

j. Taxing, controlling, and legalizing marijuana for adults like alcohol will free up precious resources to allow our criminal justice system to focus on serious crime and public safety issues;

k. Taxing, controlling, and legalizing marijuana for adults like alcohol will strike a blow at the illegal enterprises that profit from New Jersey’s current, unregulated marijuana illegal market;

l. New Jersey must strengthen our support for evidence-based, drug prevention programs that work to educate New Jerseyans, particularly young New Jerseyans, about the harms of drug abuse;

m.   New Jersey must enhance State-supported programming that provides appropriate, evidence-based treatment for those who suffer from the illness of drug addiction;

n. Controlling and regulating the manufacture, distribution, and sale of marijuana will strengthen our ability to keep marijuana away from minors;

o.  A controlled system of marijuana manufacturing, distribution, and sale must be designed in a way that enhances public health and minimizes harms to New Jersey communities and families;

p.  The regulated marijuana system in New Jersey must be regulated so as to prevent persons younger than 21 years of age from accessing or purchasing marijuana;

q.  A marijuana arrest in New Jersey can have a debilitating impact on a person’s future, including consequences for one’s job prospects, housing access, financial health, familial integrity, immigration status, and educational opportunities;

r.  The tax revenue generated from a controlled marijuana manufacture, distribution, and retail sales system in New Jersey will generate hundreds of millions of dollars to bolster effective, evidence-based drug treatment and education, and to reinvest in New Jersey communities;

s.  New Jersey cannot afford to sacrifice its public safety and civil rights by continuing its ineffective and wasteful marijuana enforcement policies.

The Bill in section 7 proposes the Powers and duties of the Division of Marijuana Enforecement as follows:.

a.  The Division of Marijuana Enforcement shall have all powers necessary or proper to enable it to carry out the division’s duties, functions, and powers under this act. The jurisdiction, supervision, duties, functions, and powers of the division extend to any person who buys, sells, produces, processes, transports, or delivers any marijuana items within this State. The division may sue and be sued.

b.  The duties, functions and powers of the division include the following:

(1)  To regulate the purchase, sale, production, processing, transportation and delivery of marijuana items in accordance with the provisions of this act.

(2)  To grant, refuse, suspend or cancel licenses for the sale, processing, or production of marijuana items, or other licenses in regard to marijuana items, and to permit, in the division’s discretion, the transfer of a license between persons.

(3)  To investigate and aid in the prosecution of every violation of the statutory laws of this State relating to marijuana items and to cooperate in the prosecution of offenders before any State court of competent jurisdiction.

(4)  To adopt, amend, or repeal regulations as necessary to carry out the intent and provisions of this act.

(5)  To exercise all powers incidental, convenient, or necessary to enable the division to administer or carry out the provisions of this act, or any other law of this State that charges the division with a duty, function, or power related to marijuana. Powers described in this paragraph include, but are not limited to:

(a)  Issuing subpoenas;

(b)  Compelling attendance of witnesses;

(c)  Administering oaths;

(d)  Certifying official acts;

(e)  Taking depositions as provided by law;

(f)  Compelling the production of books, payrolls, accounts, papers, records, documents and testimony; and

(g)  Establishing fees in addition to the application, licensing, and renewal fees, provided that any fee established by the division is reasonably calculated not to exceed the cost of the activity for which the fee is charged.

(6)  To adopt rules regulating and prohibiting marijuana producers, marijuana processors, marijuana wholesalers, and marijuana retailers from advertising marijuana items in a manner that is appealing to minors; that promotes excessive use; that promotes illegal activity; or that otherwise presents a significant risk to public health and safety.

(7)  To regulate the use of marijuana items for scientific, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, mechanical, industrial, and other purposes.

c.  The powers of the division further include the power to purchase, seize, possess, and dispose of marijuana items.

(1)  The division may purchase, possess, seize, or dispose of marijuana items as is necessary to ensure compliance with and enforcement of the provisions of this act, and any rule adopted pursuant thereto.

(2)  Any State officer, board, commission, corporation, institution, department, or other State body, and any local officer, board, commission, institution, department, or other local government body, that is permitted by the statutory laws of this State to perform a duty, function, or power with respect to a marijuana item, may purchase, possess, seize, or dispose of the marijuana item as the State officer, board, commission, corporation, institution, department or other State body, or the local officer, board, commission, institution, department or other local government body, considers necessary to ensure compliance with and enforce the applicable statutory law or any rule adopted under the applicable statutory law.

d.  The  division shall be under the immediate supervision of a director. The director of the division shall be appointed by the Governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, and shall serve during the term of office of the Governor appointing him and until the director’s successor is appointed and has qualified.
The proposed NJ bill has a very strong emphasis on diversity and inclusion for owners, board members, and the workforce. The New Jersey program has a strong social reform element to it, as well as diversity, inclusion of minority owners and workforce, and programs for disabled veterans. The Bill could come up for a vote as early as March 25, 2019.

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