New Jersey becomes 14th US state to make smoking weed legal
New Jersey has become the 14th US state to legalize the sale of marijuana for recreational use. The bill, which was signed into law yesterday by governor Phil Murphy, includes legislation to set up a recreational marijuana marketplace, the decriminalization of cannabis and the loosening penalties for underage possession of the drug. The state will now regulate the sale of cannabis to anyone over the age of 21 after the Democrat-led Assembly and Senate officially gave the laws the go-ahead. Governor Murphy said the new measures will allows law enforcement to focus on ‘real public safety measures’. He said. ‘This legislation will establish an industry that brings equity and economic opportunity to our communities while establishing minimum standards for safe products and allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on real public safety matters. ‘The legislation further provides for the Legislature to reinvest cannabis revenues in designated ‘impact zones’; directs the CRC to promote diversity and inclusion in business ownership; and contains critical employment protections for people who engage in lawful behavior with respect to cannabis.’ One of the new laws that has been introduced has reformed penalties for low-level marijuana offenses. . The bill will ‘prevent low-level distribution and possession offenses from being used in pretrial release, probation, and parole decisions and provides certain protections against discrimination in employment, housing, and places of public accommodation’, the governor’s office said. Another piece of the approved legislation will enforce penalties for selling marijuana to those under 21. The marketplace legalization bill applies the state’s 6.625 percent sales tax, with 70 percent of the proceeds going to areas disproportionately affected by marijuana-related arrests. Also under the bill, the Cannabis Regulatory Commission will be able to levy a different tax, depending on the cost per ounce of cannabis, as another way of creating income from the sale of cannabis. There will be four levels of tax under the bill, ranging between $10 per ounce and $60 per ounce depending on the size of the initial sale. New Jersey has joined 14 other states in legalizing recreational marijuana. They are; Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

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