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Is New Jersey moving toward marijuana legalization?

While it may seem hard to believe, voters across the nation will head to the polls in a matter of only weeks to cast their votes in a host of races for state and federal office. Furthermore, voters in many states will also be called upon to decide important ballot measures ranging from the mundane to the highly controversial on Election Day 2016.

By way of example, consider that nine states have marijuana-related measures on the ballot with some asking whether to legalize it for medicinal purposes and others asking whether to legalize it for recreational purposes. Interestingly enough, even though there is no marijuana measure on the New Jersey ballot this year, two lawmakers have recently introduced bold legislation calling for the state to reverse its longstanding position criminalizing the drug.

What are the bills in question?

Earlier this year, a bill drafted by Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer) calling for marijuana to be afforded the same treatment under the law as alcohol, essentially restricting its sale to residents 21 and up, was re-introduced in the Assembly.

The other bill was introduced by Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll (R-Morris) just last week and calls for marijuana to be afforded the same treatment under the law as tobacco, essentially restricting its sale to residents 19 and up.

What are the specifics of Gusciora's bill?

Under Gusciora's proposed legislation, residents 21 and up could legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana and grow no more than three cannabis plants. In addition, it calls upon the state to devise standards for commercial establishments looking to grow and sell the drug.

What are the specifics of Carroll's bill?

Carroll's bill would take things a bit further by decriminalizing marijuana altogether, meaning it would be removed from the New Jersey Controlled Dangerous Substances Act and the New Jersey Code of Criminal Justice.

In addition to regulating marijuana like tobacco products, the bill calls for those with certain marijuana-related offenses on their records to be eligible for expungement via an expedited process in the Superior Court.

Do either of the bills stand any chance of becoming law?

According to experts, neither of the bills stand a good chance of becoming law, as Governor Christie, despite showing some support for medical marijuana, has been adamantly opposed to any form of decriminalization. Indeed, experts indicate the only way marijuana legalization may become a reality is by ballot initiative.

Stay tuned for updates ...

If you are under investigation or have already been charged with any sort of drug crime, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can protect your rights and your future as soon as possible.

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