N.J. Legal Marijuana Bill Clears Committees, Final Vote Expected Next Week

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The New Jersey State Legislature is expected to vote on a bill legalizing recreational marijuana after two key committees cleared it on Monday.

The state Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the bill with a vote 6-4, with one abstention, Monday evening after hours of delays.

The state Assembly Appropriations Committee earlier approved it in a 6-2 vote, with two abstentions. Lawmakers also approved a separate expungement bill and a medical marijuana expansion bill.

The full Senate and Assembly must now pass the pass the bill before Governor Phil Murphy can sign it.

A final floor vote is expected to take place as early as March 25th.

However, supporters of the bill are still at least 3 votes short in the Senate where it needs at least 21 out of 40 Senators to pass.

If approved, New Jersey would join 10 states and the District of Columbia in legalizing the drug.

The committee votes come after Murphy and Democratic legislative leaders announced a deal on legalization last week.

The bill voted on today contained many of the same details Murphy announced, including a $42 an ounce tax. Most states with recreational marijuana levy taxes as a percentage of sales, but New Jersey would join Alaska in levying a per-ounce tax, according to the nonprofit Tax Foundation.

The bill also includes the ability for towns to impose taxes of up to 3 percent in some cases.

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