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Current New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) says the state will never legalize marijuana, at least “not on my watch.”

But in light of the fact that the term-limited governor’s watch is coming to an end early next year, lawmakers are getting the ball rolling on efforts to end cannabis prohibition in the Garden State as soon as possible.

On Monday, Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D) filed a bill that would legalize, regulate and tax marijuana.

“The drug laws in this country prohibiting the use and possession of marijuana have failed. It is time to end the detrimental effect these archaic laws are having on our residents and our state,” Scutari said in a press release. “Across the country, states have successfully implemented recreational marijuana laws and it’s time that we begin shaping our own program in New Jersey. This bill will create a strictly regulated system that permits adults to purchase limited amounts of marijuana for personal use. It will bring marijuana out of the underground market where it can be controlled, regulated and taxed, just as alcohol has been for decades.”

The senator previously authored the law that created New Jersey’s medical cannabis program.

Under his new bill, the possession and use of marijuana would be legal for adults over 21. The state would issue business licenses to cultivate, manufacture and sell marijuana. Concentrates and infused products would also be allowed.

But home cultivation would not be legal, a concession Scutari says he made to garner more support from colleagues in the legislature.

A new Division of Marijuana Enforcement would be established under the state’s Department of Law and Public Safety, which would oversee the legal cannabis industry. Regulators would be directed to adhere to goals for licensing minority-owned and women-owned businesses in an effort to avoid disparities that have persisted in other states with legalization.

An escalating scheme of sales taxes on marijuana would be implemented, starting at 7 percent in the first year and rising annually to 25 percent in the fifth year. Existing sales taxes on medical cannabis would be abolished.

Regardless of who wins the gubernatorial election on November, it seems clear that New Jersey’s next governor will be much more friendly to marijuana reform than is Christie.

All of the major Democratic candidates, including frontrunner Phil Murphy, have endorsed outright legalization.

While Republican primary candidates, including Lt. Gov Kim Guadagno, don’t support legalization, they do appear open to decriminalization and expanding the state’s medical cannabis program.

The primary elections will be held on June 6.

It is unclear how quickly the New Jersey bill could move through committees and to the floor for a vote, but last year Senate President Stephen Sweeney took a fact-finding trip to tour Colorado’s marijuana industry and said upon his return that he is “committed” to pushing legalization as soon as a new governor is inaugurated.

“We are going to have a new governor in January 2018,” he said. “As soon as the governor gets situated we are all here and we intend to move quickly on it.”

A 2015 poll found that 58 percent of New Jerseyans support legalizing marijuana.

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