Under a new bill introduced by Senate President Nicholas Scutari, the governor of New Jersey would be permitted to enter into interstate marijuana commerce agreements with other states that have legalized the drug (D).
But the agreements may be made if the legislation at the federal level were to be altered or if the Justice Department issued guidance allowing for such action.
Legislation is proposed to provide the policy infrastructure for interstate cannabis commerce, which could considerably expand the currently fragmented industry and help resolve potential supply and demand difficulties just as more state adult-use marijuana markets become operational in the Northeast.
The bill’s sponsorship by the Senate president, who also pushed for the legalization law in the state, is an indication that it is being taken seriously by lawmakers.
Even if the legislation is ultimately approved, it is timing for implementation is unclear because of the stipulations based on federal policy. While the bill itself would go into force as soon as it was signed into law, the governor would not be able to begin negotiating with other states until they gave their approval through either Congress or the Department of Justice.
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Each member state must also meet certain regulatory standards that have been established by mutual agreement. Certain responsibility for regulation and rulemaking would be assigned to the New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory Commission (CRC) and the Joint Budget Oversight Committee of the state legislature.
The bill’s language, obtained by Marijuana Moment on Tuesday, is not yet available online but would make compliance with the cannabis laws of the contracting state, particularly those pertaining to licensure, a condition of interstate marijuana commerce agreements. For marijuana goods to be exported and imported, the states must settle on a method of conveyance.
Moreover, no state or other jurisdiction that forbids the shipping of such products would accept them. Medical or recreational marijuana could be the subject of an agreement.
Considering that most states have legalized cannabis in some form, the potential landscape is vast (particularly regarding medical cannabis), provided that governments and authorities implement accommodating legislation.
In addition to the license required by the state, local governments may also require a license from any out-of-state marijuana business that wants to conduct business in New Jersey under the agreement.
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The text of the bill reads as follows: “An agreement shall require that the contracting state impose requirements on foreign licensees with respect to cannabis and cannabis products to be sold, transferred, or distributed within this State that meet or exceed the requirements applicable to State licensees.”
This involves adhering to New Jersey’s regulations concerning public health and safety, tracking from seed to sale, laboratory testing of cannabis products, required packaging and labeling, and advertising guidelines.
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” is also required.
Public health and welfare situations, such as the need to recall or embargo hazardous items quickly, would also require provisions to be included in the agreements.
The law mandates that “appropriate regulatory authorities of each state shall 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.”