It is increasingly likely Governor Phil Murphy will have to conditionally veto the cannabis bills and hope the legislature changes them, which is doubtful. Meanwhile, the Jersey City Council passed a medical cannabis tax.
“The last thing any of us want is our kids getting tied up in the criminal justice system, especially kids of color,” Murphy said yesterday at his daily COVID press conference. “And secondly, the voters voted to legalize adult-use marijuana. It said it right in the referendum, 21 and up; that’s always been the case.”
It will have been 45 days since the bills by Feb 8th by which time the bills become law without his signature. Murphy is especially desperate to make a deal by tomorrow on cannabis legislation. He faces the difficult choice of the bill becoming law without his signature, having to veto one of his signature issues, or conditionally vetoing the bill and hoping the legislature acts accordingly.
Thus, a conditional veto is looking like the most logical choice. That’s essentially what he wanted to happen with the clean-up bill that failed. A deal needs to be worked out, and the votes need to be whipped for it. While a deal was made for the clean-up bill between Murphy and the legislative leaders, it was made without input from the Black Caucus, who rejected it after it passed committees. Nothing has indicated they are more amenable to a penalty. A slap on the wrist to some is the start down the path of becoming a second class citizen as a felon.
The delay has been infuriating because a deal was already made between Murphy and the legislative leaders on cannabis legalization. At that time, the bills should have been reviewed with a fine-tooth comb. Even then, it might not have discovered since there were discrepancies between the Senate and Assembly versions of the bills that further delayed the process before they were passed on Dec 17th.
Everyone believes there be a deal eventually. Hopefully, adult-use cannabis’ rollout will be smoother than it has been thus far.
Jersey City Passes Medical Cannabis Tax
A medical cannabis tax on future dispensaries that would go to Jersey City’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund passed the council on second reading unanimously 9-0.
“We definitely need money for affordable housing and still have to face the school budget shortfall that’s likely coming,” Ward E Councilman James Solomon said before voting in favor of the medical cannabis tax of two percent.
“With a $60 million shortfall, we’re gonna need every dollar we can get,” he added.
“We have a structural revenue problem for our Jersey City public schools,” At Large Councilman Rolando said to justify the tax on medical cannabis.
He noted that he has advocated in the past for adult-use and medical cannabis legalization. Lavarro added adult-use cannabis would produce more tax revenue than medical cannabis.
The only person who spoke during the time allotted for the medical cannabis tax hearing was Yvonne Balcer, who said there might be a correlation between psychosis and cannabis use. She claimed that was the opinion of doctors. Balcer also wanted to know if there were any revenue projections.
No such numbers were forthcoming likely because adult-use cannabis instead of medical is expected to generate revenue worth counting.
There are no dispensaries yet in Jersey City.