TRENTON, N.J. – As Mayor of the City of Trenton as well as an original sponsor of the bill permitting adult-use marijuana, I wholeheartedly support such legislation currently under consideration by the NJ Senate (S2703) and Assembly (A4497). The legislation will do a lot of good for New Jersey as a whole and, specifically, for urban centers around the state in the way of economic opportunities and social justice concerns.
The bill recognizes the long-term failed experiment in enforcement against simple possession of marijuana for personal use. Equally important is that economic opportunities will arise for cultivation, manufacturing, wholesale, and retail of the product. Urban centers can convert abandoned warehousing and house dispensaries providing real opportunities for economic development.
In addition, the bill authorizes expedited expungements for all marijuana possession offenses and distribution up to five pounds, which encompasses the vast majority of offenses. Individuals will be able to have these offenses permanently removed from their criminal record, and it will ensure that these convictions will not be used in employment, mortgage lending, and housing decisions in the same way that race, ethnicity, and gender cannot play a role in these decisions. Additionally, those currently incarcerated or on parole can petition the court to vacate their sentences.
Once passed into law, tax revenue from cultivators, manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers will stay local, as the bill allows for municipalities to impose local taxes to use as we see fit. This will go a long way to help bring more resources to Trenton as well as other municipalities across the state.
Finally, the bill ensures that, at a minimum, 15 percent of licenses will go to certified minority businesses and an additional 15 percent will go to certified women's owned and disabled veterans' businesses. On top of that, 25 percent of licenses will go to microbusinesses, which are limited to New Jersey residents, and 35 percent will be conditional licenses, which are limited to individuals that make under a certain income threshold. This will all go a long way to ensuring that license recipients will largely be a diverse group of New Jersey-based small businesses. Lastly, cities such as Trenton, as impact zones, will receive priority in licensure over cultivation and dispensaries.
In essence, this bill strikes a balance in creating new economic opportunities and doing what’s right for those that have had past scrapes with the law over simple possession of marijuana. I am very proud to support this bill, and I look forward to its passage.
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