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Assembly panel advances marijuana cleanup bill

By Nikita Biryukov, January 07 2021 11:32 am

An Assembly panel amended legislation enabling the state’s legal marijuana market to include fines for underage use Thursday morning.

Both legislative chambers passed the recreational marijuana bill in mid-December, though it has since sat untouched on Murphy’s desk.

Amendments announced Tuesday would create new penalties for individuals between the ages of 18 and 20 in possession of marijuana.

It’s not clear how additional amendments added Thursday change the bill.

Underage individuals who carry fewer than six ounces of marijuana, the maximum allowed under the bill for persons age 21 and up, will face $250 fines, while those carrying more than six ounces face a steeper $500 fine.

Minors won’t pay the fine, but they may be sentenced to community service or similar punishments.

Joe Johnson of the New Jersey ACLU urged the Assembly Appropriations to include a provision allowing underage persons who lack the ability to pay the fines to instead perform community service.

He also asked the bill be further amended to explicitly bar incarceration for marijuana possession.

The Senate Judiciary Committee intends to take up the cleanup bill Thursday afternoon, where it is expected to pass without much controversy. They could pass votes before full chambers as early as Monday, when both will convene for full sessions.

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