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A home-grown cannabis plant.

Mario Antonio Pena Zapatería

New Jersey Assemblyman Michael Carroll has introduced legislation that would legalize cannabis — regulating it like cigarettes — and provide for expungement for certain past marijuana convictions, while keeping the state’s medical marijuana program intact. Under the measure, cannabis would be available for adults aged 19-and-older and would be permitted to be sold at convenience stores.

“This bill would legalize marijuana by removing all criminal liability associated with marijuana from the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice, Title 2C of the New Jersey Statutes, as well as its regulation as a controlled dangerous substance under the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act,” the bill text states.

The plan would permit personal possession of up to 50 grams of flower and up to 5 grams of “hashish,” defined under the law as any resin extraction, i.e., concentrates. Possession over those amounts could result in disorderly conduct charges and fines up to $25,000.

Public-use would be banned in places pursuant to the New Jersey Smoke-Free Air Act; cannabis advertising would be prohibited on school busses, and industrial grows are outlawed at homes. The bill also provides for instructional programs in school “on the physiological, psychological, and sociological effects of marijuana on the individual, family and society.”

“I am probably the straightest (read: most boring) guy ever. Never once did a line, popped a pill, or smoked a joint,” Carroll, a Republican, wrote in a Facebook post announcing the bill’s introduction. “But it’s long past time to admit failure and end the war on drugs, starting with MJ [sic]. I can’t be accused of personal interest; I have precisely zero interest in this plant.”

The bill, A4193, has been sent to the Assembly Judiciary Committee. However, even if it were to pass both houses of the state legislature, Gov. Chris Christie is an outspoken prohibitionist and there is no guarantee he would sign the bill into law.  

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