NJ marijuana bill advances, but lawmakers differ on details

TRENTON, New Jersey — New Jersey lawmakers advanced legislation setting up a new recreational marijuana marketplace, which voters overwhelmingly approved on the ballot this month, but differed on key details.

The Assembly Appropriations Committee and the Senate Budget Committee passed legislation on Thursday, but the changes mean the two Democrat-led chambers will have to iron out their differences before going to a floor vote.

Lawmakers were hopeful the bill could get a floor vote next week, but the Senate session was canceled Thursday evening. It’s unclear how soon it will be rescheduled.

Lawmakers have have been negotiating over amending the measure since it stalled last week.

A key difference between the Senate and Assembly bills involves caps on the number of licenses: The Senate version eliminates caps, while the Assembly bill increased the number to 37 from 28.

A commonality, but an addition since last week is an excise tax, which applies to specific goods or services and which consumers ultimately pay. The bill calls for a tax of one-third of 1% on marijuana sales. The state’s 6.625% sales tax will also apply.

The bills also allow the Cannabis Regulatory Commission to levy an optional additional excise tax. The proceeds would go toward “social equity” programs aimed at alleviating racial disparities, stemming from decades of Black residents being likelier to face…

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