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Gov. Murphy, Lawmakers Say Deal Reached On Marijuana Bill

HOBOKEN, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- The legalization of recreational marijuana is one step closer to getting finalized in the Garden State.

On Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy and other lawmakers approved the framework for the bill, CBS2's Cory James reported.

"We're proud to announce today that we've reached an agreement on legislation providing the framework for legalization, which is a critical step in reducing racial disparities and social inequities that have long plagued our criminal justice system," the governor's office said in an emailed statement.

The latest development is good news for attorney Mike McQueeney, who is working with clients looking to tap into the cannabis industry.

"This is fast-breaking news. There's a lot of interest of businesses trying to get into the cannabis marketplace and a lot of people are going to be excited once this bill gets traction," McQueeney said.

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CBS2 has learned 37 cultivators will be allowed for the first two years. In addition, 70% of the sales tax will go toward social justice programs.

"We can't have people coming out of jail and having nowhere to go, and hoping that they are going to do something other than what they did to get themselves in jail in the first place," state Sen. Nick Scutari said.

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Scutari said the initiative will not only decriminalize the possession of marijuana by six ounces or less, which is a major moment for racial justice since Black people are three and a half times more likely to be arrested for it than white people, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, but it will also lower penalties of psychedelic mushrooms to a misdemeanor.

"We're going to have a separate bill, which downgrades possession of magic mushrooms from a three-to-five-year state prison sentence to up to six months in jail," Scutari said.


They are changes some are happy to see.

"To be arrested for a nickel bag is stupid," said Cecilia Lisa of Hoboken.

"I feel like marijuana is such a common drug nowadays in society, like our resources can go elsewhere," added resident Hope Narozniak.

The Legislature still has to officially vote on the agreement, which is expected to happen before the end of the month. It could take at least six months before hard rules are set in stone on how the cannabis industry can operate.

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