A recreational marijuana marketplace, cannabis decriminalization and looser penalties for underage possession of the drug and alcohol became law Monday in New Jersey, more than three months after voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot question to legalize adult use of the drug, reports the Associated Press. While Governor Murphy signed the bill into law just before the Monday deadline, because the state’s new Cannabis Regulatory Commission has to get up and running, and put in place regulations and licenses, it could be about six months before the legalized marketplace is up and running. Legislation that passed only on Monday after weeks of negotiation makes underage possession of alcohol and marijuana subject to a written warnings that escalate to include parental notification and a referral to community services upon subsequent violations. Underage drinking had been punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and up to six months in jail.
Under the new law, towns will no longer have the authority to enact ordinances with civil penalties or fines concerning underage possession or consumption violations on private property. ,For consumers, the marketplace legalization means the state’s 6.625 percent sales tax applies. Seventy percent of the proceeds will go to areas disproportionately affected by marijuana-related arrests.