Monday’s hearing on cannabis: Breaking down 5 key items in bills

A package of bills addressing recreational marijuana legalization, expansion of medical marijuana and social justice reform in relation to marijuana will be heard by a joint Senate and Assembly committee Monday in Trenton.

The contents of the bills can change based on the testimony at the hearing. The bills must pass both houses before being signed by Gov. Phil Murphy in order to become law.

A timeline is unclear, but both the legislators and the governor are keen to pass the bills by the end of this year or early next year.

Here are five things that are addressed in the package of bills:

  1. Cannabis businesses no longer will be nonprofit: Until now, medical marijuana shops have been required to be nonprofit. The new bills are meant to help solve the financial struggle of those already operating by allowing for-profit and combined (nonprofit and for-profit) ownerships.
  2. Cannabis consumption will now be allowed at stores: Shops can have exterior but attached spaces for consumption of products bought in the stores (a lounge, patio, etc.) under the proposed bills. They also will be able to offer delivery services.
  3. The goal is to keep the industry in state: The bills attempt to keep the sale and distribution of marijuana inside New Jersey by requiring that anyone with a 20 percent or greater interest in a company must reside in New Jersey for at least two years in order to qualify for a license application.
  4. The bills allow for a quick review of the laws: The bills say the laws set by the legislation will be revisited after one year to see if any changes are needed.
  5. Concerns of minority groups are addressed: The bills address the biggest issues of concern for minority groups. There is a focus on expungement of criminal records for use and possession, since convictions of those crimes have disproportionately affected African-Americans and Latinos. In addition, there will be an effort to ensure greater minority ownership of legal shops through an Office of Minority, Disabled Veterans, and Women Cannabis Business Development.

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