New Jersey state Sen. Nicholas Scutari is expected to unveil a bill to tax-and-regulate cannabis sales in the state ahead of November’s gubernatorial vote that will mark the end of Republican Chris Christie’s term, NJ.com reports. Democrat Phil Murphy, the front-runner to replace Christie, is in favor of legalization.
“The national trend is toward legalization,” Scutari, a Democrat, said in the report. “It’s absolutely necessary to save our neighborhoods from drug dealers. And we can use the tax revenue. And people are smoking it anyway.”
Scutari, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and sponsored the state’s medical cannabis legislation, said the advance introduction of the bill will “get the ball rolling and educate legislators” but he could not guarantee its passage.
“But we’ve got to work it so it will be ready for a new administration come January,” he said.
Each of the other Democrats running for governor support either decriminalizing cannabis possession or legalizing cannabis use for adults. Of the Republican field, Assemblyman Jack Ciattarelli supports decriminalization but not “outright legalization;” Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno supports expanding the medical cannabis program but does not support adult-use regulation; Steve Rogers, Nutley town commissioner and a former police officer, favors expanding the medical cannabis program to include mental health issues but does not support recreational use; while Joseph Rullo and Hirsh Singh, New Jersey businessmen, have both indicated support for comprehensive adult-use programs.
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