Sen. Nicholas Scutari recently proposed legislation that would legalize recreational use of small amounts of marijuana for adults 21 and over. While the bill has little chance of passage under Gov. Chris Christie, it could become a reality under New Jersey’s next governor.

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“Other states' programs are working well, creating jobs and generating tax revenue, and have not seen the doom-and-gloom scenarios once predicted. Regulating the sale and consumption of marijuana in New Jersey will not only benefit the state financially but will mean a safer and more responsible way of treating this drug and a more humane way of treating our residents,” Sen. Scutari said in support of the marijuana bill.

The comprehensive marijuana legislation establishes a robust regulatory scheme for the manufacture, distribution, and sale of marijuana. At the same time, it also allows for some oversight at the local level.

Notably, municipalities can prohibit the operation of marijuana cultivation facilities, marijuana product manufacturing facilities, marijuana testing facilities, or retail marijuana stores through the enactment of an ordinance. However, the failure to enact an ordinance prohibiting the operation of a marijuana establishment will permit the operation of a marijuana retail establishment within the local governmental entity for five years. At the end of the five-year period, and every five-year period thereafter, the municipality again be permitted to prohibit the operation of a marijuana establishment.

Under the proposed bill, each municipality must enact an ordinance or regulation specifying the entity that will be responsible for processing applications submitted for a license to operate a marijuana establishment within the boundaries of the municipality and for the issuance of such licenses, should the state fail to adopt regulations or to process and issue licenses.

Municipalities are also authorized to enact ordinances or regulations, not in conflict with the provisions of the bill, that address the following:

  • The time, place, manner and number of marijuana establishment operations;
  • The procedures for the issuance, suspension, and revocation of a license issued by the local governmental entity;
  • The schedule of annual operating, licensing, and application fees for marijuana establishments, provided, the application fee shall only be due if an application is submitted to a local governmental entity in accordance with the provisions of the bill and a licensing fee shall only be due if a license is issued by a local governmental entity; and
  • The civil penalties for violation of an ordinance or regulation governing the time, place, and manner of a marijuana establishment that may operate in such local governmental entity.

We will be closely monitoring the progress of the proposed marijuana bill and will post updates as they become available. For more information about the proposed marijuana bill or the legal issues involved, we encourage you to contact a member of Scarinci Hollenbeck’s Government Law Group.

This article is a part of a series covering the potential for marijuana legalization in the United States, specifically New Jersey.  For more on this topic, check out:

Disclaimer: Possession, use, distribution, and/or sale of cannabis is a Federal crime and is subject to related Federal policy. Legal advice provided by Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC is designed to counsel clients regarding the validity, scope, meaning, and application of existing and/or proposed cannabis law. Scarinci Hollenbeck, LLC will not provide assistance in circumventing Federal or state cannabis law or policy, and advice provided by our office should not be construed as such.