New Jersey Senate President Files Bill To Allow Interstate Marijuana Commerce | Big Indy News
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New Jersey Senate President Files Bill To Allow Interstate Marijuana Commerce



The governor of New Jersey would be authorized to enter into agreements for interstate marijuana commerce with other states that have legalized cannabis under a new bill filed by Senate President Nicholas Scutari (D).

However, the agreements could only be forged if federal law changes, or if the Justice Department issues guidance permitting such activity.

With more state adult-use marijuana markets coming online in the Northeast region, the legislation is timely, proposing to create the policy infrastructure for interstate cannabis commerce that could significantly expand the currently fragmented industry and help resolve possible supply and demand issues.

The fact that the bill is being sponsored by the Senate president—who also championed the state’s legalization law—signals that this is a serious legislative endeavor.

But the federal policy conditions that are built into the measure leave questions about the timeline for implementation even if it is passed. The bill itself would take effect immediately upon enactment, but the governor could only initiate the interstate agreements if Congress or the Justice Department gives such activity the green light.

There are also regulatory requirements that must be agreed upon by each of the participating states. The New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) and the legislature’s Joint Budget Oversight Committee would have certain oversight and rulemaking responsibilities to that end.

Under the legislation, the text of which has not yet been posted online but was obtained by Marijuana Moment on Tuesday, interstate marijuana commerce agreements would be contingent on compliance with the contracting state’s cannabis laws, including those pertaining to licensure.

The states must agree on the mode of transportation for marijuana products to be exported and imported. And such products could not be shipped through any state or jurisdiction that prohibits the activity.

Agreements could involve either medical or adult-use marijuana products. And considering that the majority of states have legalized cannabis in some form, the map of possibilities is theoretically expansive (especially as it concerns medical cannabis) as long as states and jurisdictions adopt permissive policies.

Any out-of-state marijuana business seeking to engage in cannabis commerce within New Jersey under the agreement must also receive a license from state regulators, as well as by local governments where the activity takes place.

“An agreement shall require that the contracting state impose requirements on foreign licensees with regard to cannabis and cannabis products to be sold or otherwise transferred or distributed within this State that meet or exceed the requirements applicable to State licensees,” the bill text says.

That includes meeting New Jersey rules on public health and safety standards, seed-to-sale tracking, laboratory testing of cannabis products, packaging and labeling requirements and marketing policies.

There must also be a “process for identification of adulterated or misbranded cannabis products, and the destruction of those products, using standards that meet or exceed the standards and procedures promulgated by the commission.”

The agreements would also need to include provisions that address how to handle “public health and welfare emergencies,” such as the need to promptly recall or embargo contaminated products.

“An agreement shall include provisions requiring appropriate regulatory authorities of each state to investigate instances of alleged noncompliance with the commercial cannabis regulatory rules and regulations upon request by the other state and in accordance with mutually agree-upon procedures,” the legislation says.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

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There’s also an equity component of the bill stipulating that the agreements must incorporate provisions directed by the governor that “promote the inclusion and support of individuals and communities in the cannabis industry who are linked to populations and neighborhoods that were negatively or disproportionately impacted by cannabis criminalization.”

Before an interstate marijuana commerce agreement is executed or amended, the governor would need to submit the proposal to the Joint Budget Oversight Committee for review and recommendations. The panel would have 60 days to review the agreement and suggest any revisions.

At that point, the governor would be able to incorporate the panel’s changes or refuse them. If the governor does reject the revisions, they would need to share the reasoning with the committee and also publicize the agreement for a 30-day public comment period.

While many industry stakeholders have pushed for lawful interstate commerce to free up isolated state markets, that type of commercial activity has been specifically identified by the federal government as an enforcement priority that could potentially warrant intervention.

In anticipation of that potential conflict, the bill lists four conditions that must be met in order for the governor to exercise the interstate commerce agreement authority.

The agreements can only be made and executed if 1) federal law is amended to explicitly allow interstate marijuana commerce; 2) Congress enacts budgetary restrictions that prohibit the use of federal funds to enforce laws against such activity; 3) the Justice Department issues an opinion or memorandum “allowing or tolerating” the commerce; or 4) the state attorney general issues a written directive affirming that the implementation of the proposal “will not result in significant legal risk” to the state.

New Jersey regulators would be required to notify the governor and legislature if and when any of those four conditions are met.

The bill from Scutari, who also recently filed a measure to legalize the possession and home cultivation of psilocybin by adults, is similar to interstate cannabis commerce legislation that was filed and signed into law by Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) in 2019.

Two members of that state’s congressional delegation followed up on that action by filing a measure that would similarly allow for such activity, preventing the Justice Department from interfering in states that have affirmative agreements to sell marijuana across state lines. The legislation did not advance, however.

Two years after Brown signed the state-level legislation, a coalition of cannabis organizations began rallying the business community to join them in asking governors from four key West Coast states to seek Justice Department guidance on interstate cannabis commerce.

The Alliance for Sensible Markets campaign circulated a sign-on letter for those interested in putting pressure on the governors of California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington to make the request.

The coalition pointed out that Attorney General Merrick Garland, during his confirmation proceedings, said in oral and written testimony that it’s a waste of federal resources to go after people acting in compliance with state cannabis laws. However, the top federal prosecutor has not specifically weighed in on the question of interstate commerce.

Meanwhile, in California, a bill from Sen. Anna Caballero (D) to authorize the governor to enter into interstate marijuana commerce agreements is set to be taken up by the Assembly Appropriations Committee this week, which will determine whether it advances to the floor.

“The economics of this industry won’t be rational until we are able to move cannabis from where it is most effectively grown to where there is greatest demand,” Adam Smith, president of the Alliance for Sensible Markets, told Marijuana Moment in a phone interview on Tuesday.

“The longer we mis-incentivize production in places where it will never be competitive, the more economic harm we will do and the more we will hurt the small players,” he said.

Read the text of the New Jersey Senate interstate marijuana commerce bill below: 

Voters In Five Texas Cities Will Decide On Marijuana Decriminalization In November, Activists Say

Photo courtesy of Mike Latimer.

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New congressional leaders on cannabis (Newsletter: November 29, 2022)



Young Americans twice as likely to smoke marijuana than cigarettes; Colombia & Mexican presidents want drug war review; TX cannabis decrim pushback

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Marijuana Moment compiled a deep dive into the cannabis voting records of the incoming Republican and Democratic House leaders. We examined their support for and opposition to federal legislation on legalization, banking, veterans, research and more.

Colombian President Gustavo Petro and Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador said in a joint statement that they will convene other Latin American leaders for a conference focused on “redesigning and rethinking drug policy” given the “failure” of prohibition.

A new Gallup poll shows that young Americans are now more than twice as likely to smoke marijuana than cigarettes.

Texas activists are pushing back as local lawmakers in several cities are working to undermine marijuana decriminalization ballot measures that voters overwhelmingly approved this month. In Harker Heights, for example, the City Council repealed the reform—but now advocates want to put it back on the ballot again.

The Kansas legislature’s Special Committee on Workforce Development voted to recommend that colleagues “proceed with caution” on medical cannabis legalization due to concerns about drug testing and labor shortages.


A White House spokesperson said President Joe Biden’s marijuana pardons will “bring relief to thousands of Americans.”

Customs and Border Protection defended a lifetime ban on visiting the U.S. that was imposed on a Canadian man who had a bottle of CBD oil in his car when crossing the border.

Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-NV) tweeted, “I introduced a common sense bill to level the playing field for legally-operating cannabis small businesses so that they have access to the @SBAgov resources they need to thrive.”

Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) discussed his marijuana research bill that is expected to be signed into law by President Joe Biden soon.

Rep. Dave Joyce (R-OH) tweeted that his bill to create a federal commission to study marijuana regulations ” gives lawmakers the answers they need to effectively regulate cannabis & forces executive agencies to prepare for the inevitable end to prohibition. With a deadline of 1 year to act, PREPARE bolsters @POTUS’ EO’s, paving the way for more comprehensive reform.”


Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) tweeted, “It’s long past time for Wisconsin to join other states in legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana, much like we already do with alcohol. Nearly two-thirds of Wisconsinites support legalizing marijuana—it’s time to get this done.”

Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb (R) said he supports research on medical cannabis but he is not comfortable with advancing any marijuana legislation that would contradict federal law.

Ohio’s House speaker said members have interest in enacting a Senate-passed bill to expand the medical cannabis program in the lame duck session.

Minnesota’s outgoing House majority leader authored an op-ed arguing that the state is “on the verge of passing the best cannabis legislation in the nation.” He also discussed his support for legalization in a radio interview.

A Pennsylvania representative’s office is assisting people with registering as medical cannabis patients.

The Arkansas Supreme Court is  being asked to reconsider the loss of a medical cannabis cultivation company’s license.

A Massachusetts judge heard arguments in a case challenging the local impact fees that Haverhill charges to marijuana businesses.

Oklahoma regulators are accepting public comment on proposed medical cannabis rules.

Rhode Island regulators issued guidance about marijuana taxes.

The Virginia Crime Commission is considering proposals on marijuana-impaired driving.

Vermont regulators will review marijuana guidance, proposed rules changes and recommendations for license approvals and social equity status on Wednesday.

Washington State regulators will host the first Cannabinoid Science Work Group meeting on Thursday.

The Nevada Cannabis Advisory Commission’s Subcommittee on Public Health will meet on Thursday.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.


The Elyria, Ohio City Council Utilities, Safety and Environmental Committee rejected a marijuana decriminalization proposal.

District attorneys in several North Carolina counties discussed their decisions to deprioritize marijuana prosecutions.

Reno, Nevada officials are holding meetings to take public feedback on a proposal to allow marijuana consumption lounges on Wednesday and Thursday.


The president of Thailand’s Parliament said lawmakers still have enough time to consider cannabis and hemp legislation before the end of the session.

The Lithuanian Parliament’s Committee on Legal Affairs advanced marijuana decriminalization legislation.

The Canadian Senate Committee on Indigenous Peoples held a hearing on how cannabis laws impact indigenous populations. Separately, the Senate Subcommittee on Veteran Affairs  heard testimony on the therapeutic potential of psychedelics in treating PTSD.

The Philippine government is launching a new drug policy that it says will focus on demand reduction and rehabilitation instead of killing people who consume drugs.

Malta’s Authority for the Responsible Use of Cannabis is expected to start accepting applications for marijuana club licenses by February.

Colombia’s National Institute of Cancerology wants to produce cannabis medicines. Separately, the Justice Ministry and National Planning Department participated in a cannabis conference.

Victoria, Australia’s Legalise Cannabis Party is expected to win seats in the Legislative Council.


A study suggested that “the commercially available CBD products included in this study are safe and may serve as potentially effective complementary therapies for management of anxiety, sleep disturbance, and pain.”

A review found “a significant pain reduction in response to placebo in cannabinoid randomized clinical trials” and concluded that “media attention was proportionally high, with a strong positive bias, yet not associated with the clinical outcomes.”


The Iowa Republican Party and Democratic Party chairs discussed their views on marijuana policy.


A spokesperson for Meta discussed the company’s ban on content that promotes the buying and selling of illegal drugs including marijuana.

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Photo courtesy of Chris Wallis // Side Pocket Images.

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Young Americans Are Twice As Likely To Smoke Marijuana Than Cigarettes, New Gallup Data Shows



Young people are now more than twice as likely to report smoking marijuana compared to cigarettes, according to a new analysis of survey data from Gallup.

Past-week cigarette smoking by adults 18-29 declined from 15 percent in 2016-2018 to a new low of 12 percent in 2019-2022.

Meanwhile, 26 percent of adults in that age group now say that they smoke cannabis, compared to 21 percent in the earlier survey period.

Overall, the 2019-2022 data shows that 27 percent of Americans smoke cigarettes, marijuana or e-cigarettes. Gallup found that seven percent smoke cannabis alone, nine percent smoke cigarettes alone and three percent smoke e-cigarettes alone.

But it’s the youngest generation that is most strongly opting for cannabis over cigarettes—a trend that could be attributed to any number of factors, including public education campaigns about the dangers of tobacco and the decreased public perception of harm around marijuana.

It’s also possible that people generally feel more willing to openly report smoking cannabis amid the state-level legalization movement and congressional efforts to end prohibition, aside from the amount of actual change in use patterns.

People in the 18-29 age category are the most likely to smoke or vape something, at 40 percent. But almost four times as many young people smoke only marijuana (11 percent) as they do only cigarettes (three percent).

In contrast, people in the 30-49 age group were slightly more likely to say they exclusively smoked cigarettes in the past week (11 percent) than those who only smoked cannabis (eight percent).

Gallup separately released a data analysis in August that found, for the first time, that more Americans openly admitted to smoking marijuana or eating cannabis-infused edibles than those who said they’ve smoked cigarettes in the past week.

While that survey didn’t include an age-based demographic breakdown, Gallup did release data in 2019 that showed young people were more likely to smoke marijuana than cigarettes. And compared to the new poll, the gap in the use of those substances among young people has increased.

“Public health officials would be encouraged by the steep decline in cigarette smoking over the past two decades, a trend driven largely by plummeting smoking rates among young adults,” Gallup said. “But young adults are increasingly smoking marijuana, perhaps because it is now legal to use in a growing number of states, and vaping. Both vaping and marijuana are more common activities for young adults than traditional cigarette smoking.”

“Still, fewer young adults smoke or vape today than smoked cigarettes two decades ago, before e-cigarettes became widely available. And although many health researchers believe vaping is safer than smoking traditional cigarettes, they do not believe e-cigarettes are safe in general. Further, the long-term health effects of vaping are not as well-known, and the Food and Drug Administration has taken steps to try to limit marketing of vaping to minors.”

It should be pointed out that the individual language of Gallup’s questions about cigarettes, e-cigarettes and marijuana are distinct in that the cigarette question asks about “past-week” usage, whereas the cannabis question is more general, without a timeline.

Additionally, respondents were asked about “smoking” marijuana, which would potentially exclude a significant portion of the cannabis-consuming population that uses edibles, vapes or other non-combustible products.

This dataset—which involved interviews with 3,545 adults for the 2019-2022 results, with a margin of error ranging from 4-5 percentage points—was released on the heels of Gallup’s broader annual survey that includes questions about drug consumption trends.

That poll found that seven in 10 Americans say that marijuana should be legalized—including majorities of all political parties and age demographics.

The findings and demographic trends from the survey are generally consistent with recent polling on the issue, including one that showed just one in ten Americans say that marijuana should remain completely illegal.

Another recent survey that was commissioned by Fox News and the Associated Press and conducted in the lead-up to the election found 63 percent support for legalization nationwide.

Interestingly, that survey also found majority support for ending prohibition among voters in two states that rejected legalization initiatives last week, signaling that the measures might have failed in part because of disagreements about specific provisions rather than the basic concept of legalization.

A poll released last month also shows that a majority of Americans are in favor of President Joe Biden’s decision to grant pardons to people who’ve committed federal marijuana possession offenses, and most also want to see their own governors follow suit with state-level cannabis relief.

Meanwhile, the same young adults who are most likely to report smoking marijuana compared to cigarettes are also the most likely to say that the plant should be legalized, indicating that the trend will continue.

In August, Gallup separately released data showing that more than twice as many Americans think that cannabis has a positive impact on its consumers and society at large than say the same about alcohol.

That’s generally consistent with the results of a separate poll released in March that found more Americans think it’d be good if people switched to cannabis and drank less alcohol compared to those who think the substance substitution would be bad.

Interestingly, a 2020 Gallup survey separately showed that 86 percent of Americans view alcohol use as morally acceptable, compared to 70 percent who said the same about marijuana consumption.

Texas Activists Fight Back After Local Lawmakers Undermine Voter-Approved Marijuana Decriminalization Measures

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Texas Activists Fight Back After Local Lawmakers Undermine Voter-Approved Marijuana Decriminalization Measures



Texas officials in several cities have moved to overturn or undercut local marijuana decriminalization ordinances that voters overwhelmingly approved at the ballot this month—but activists aren’t going down without a fight.

Five cities passed the decriminalization ballot measures with strong margins on November 8, but city councils and officials in at least three of those localities are facing criticism from advocates over their attempts to undermine the reforms. In Harker Heights, for example, the city council voted last week to repeal the ordinance altogether.

Ground Game Texas, the campaign that spearheaded the decriminalization ordinances, says it is planning to collect signatures for another local referendum to go before voters during Harker Heights’s next election that would effectively repeal the repeal.

In Denton, meanwhile, local officials haven’t pursued an outright repeal of the reform measure that voters approved there, but they have challenged key provisions, saying that the city isn’t authorized to direct police to make the prescribed policy changes. However, the mayor and city manager have said that low-level cannabis offenses will continue to be treated as low law enforcement priorities.

The Killeen City Council decided to press pause on implementing the local voter-approved decriminalization ordinance, arguing that there are legal concerns that lawmakers need to sort through before potentially giving it their approval.

One councilmember, Jose Segarra, said that he took particular issue with provision of the reform measure preventing police from using the odor of marijuana alone as the basis for a search, and he suggested that the local government could amend the ordinance to eliminate that language.

So far, the two other Texas cities that passed decriminalization measures this month—Elgin and San Marcos—have not raised legislative or legal objections. But advocates aren’t planning to cede any of the victories.

Since the Harker Heights City Council has already approved a resolution to repeal the ordinance, there’s particular urgency for advocates to take responsive action, which is shaping up to look like a secondary referendum for the May 2023 ballot.

“Everything is in city charter,” Louie Minor, a Bell County commissioner-elect who worked on the Harker Heights and Killeen cannabis decriminalization campaigns, told The Killeen Daily Journal. “A referendum would mean going out and getting signatures. We have a very short time period, though. The citizens would vote on repealing the ordinance that repealed Proposition A.”

In Denton, when local officials first suggested earlier this month that they weren’t comfortable fully implementing the voter-approved cannabis decriminalization measure, Ground Game Texas pushed back by issuing a legal memo.

“The voters of Denton have spoken. By an overwhelming margin, they passed an initiative to prioritize scarce public safety initiatives for important needs that serve Denton, rather than wasteful enforcement of low-level marijuana offenses,” Mike Siegel, a co-founder of the group, said. “City staff do not have the authority to disregard election results and usurp the will of the voters. We hope and expect that officials in positions of public trust will fulfill the will of the voters they serve and ensure that Proposition B is duly enforced immediately.”

The Denton City Council has since voted 6-0 to accept the results of the election.

The reform measures might be new to the cities where lawmakers are raising concerns, but they’re not without precedent in the Lone Star state. Austin voters, for example, strongly approved a marijuana decriminalization measure this past May—and it doesn’t appear that the city has grappled with any major legal battles over the modest policy change.

Meanwhile, San Antonio, the second largest Texas city by population, could get the chance to locally decriminalize marijuana in May 2023 after activists announced last month that they were launching a signature drive for ballot placement.

While there’s been a surge of local action on marijuana issues under home rule laws in Texas over recent years, statewide reform has generally stalled in the conservative legislature.

The House approved a cannabis decriminalization bill in 2019, but it did not advance in the Senate that session Lawmakers have since been unable to pass additional expansive cannabis bills in recent sessions.

For his part, Gov. Greg Abbott (R) said that he doesn’t believe people should be incarcerated over low-level marijuana possession. However, the governor incorrectly suggested that lawmakers have already adopted the policy statewide.

A poll released last year found that a strong majority of Texans—including most Republicans—support even broader reform to legalize marijuana for adult use. Another survey found that 60 percent of voters in the state support making cannabis legal “for any use” and about nine in ten voters think marijuana should be legalized for some purpose.

Additionally, a poll released in June found that cannabis legalization is more popular in Texas than the state’s top elected officials and President Joe Biden.

House Speaker Dade Phelan (R) said in September that he will work to enact criminal justice reform in the 2023 session, and he again expressed support for lowering penalties for marijuana possession.

Marijuana Moment is tracking more than 1,500 cannabis, psychedelics and drug policy bills in state legislatures and Congress this year. Patreon supporters pledging at least $25/month get access to our interactive maps, charts and hearing calendar so they don’t miss any developments.

Learn more about our marijuana bill tracker and become a supporter on Patreon to get access.

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D), who was the Democratic gubernatorial nominee in Texas this year, has long advocated for an end to marijuana prohibition and included the reform as a tenet of his campaign. But he ultimately lost the race to Abbott.

There were some drug policy reforms that did advance in the legislature during last year’s session, but not necessarily at the pace that advocates had hoped to see.

A bill to expand the state’s medical cannabis program and another to require a study into the therapeutic potential of certain psychedelics for military veterans were enacted.

The Texas Republican Party adopted a platform plank endorsing decriminalization of marijuana possession in 2018, but that was later rescinded.

Separately, the state Supreme Court heard testimony in March in a case concerning the state’s ban on manufacturing smokable hemp products—the latest development in a drawn-out legal battle on the policy first proposed and challenged in 2020.

In San Antonio, activists will need to collect at least 20,000 valid signatures from registered voters by early January to qualify for the May 2023 ballot. The groups said they plan to submit a minimum of 35,000 signatures.

Colombian And Mexican Presidents Announce International Effort To Reshape Drug Policy, Condemning ‘Failure’ Of Prohibition

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