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New Jersey Assembly Overwhelmingly Passes Marijuana Decriminalization Bill

By Eric Volkman – Jun 18, 2020 at 6:09PM

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The passage comes less than five months before the state will vote on legalizing recreational marijuana sale and use.

On Thursday, the New Jersey Assembly passed a law decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of cannabis. Sixty-three of the state's legislators voted in favor, with only 10 against (two did not vote, while five abstained).

The bill would make possession of up to two ounces of cannabis subject only to a $50 fine. At the moment, transgressors can be arrested and charged with a crime.

Illegal and Legal spelled out in dice next to marijuana leaf symbols.

Image source: Getty Images.

The Assembly's bill is not the only decriminalization effort in the pipeline. Two weeks ago the state Senate introduced a similar piece of legislation with a higher possession threshold, specifically up to one pound. The Senate's proposal has not yet made it to a vote.

As in other states, a bill must be approved by both chambers of the New Jersey legislature and signed by the state's Governor in order to become law.

Meanwhile, the state's residents will vote on recreational legalization on Election Day this year. Recent polls suggest there is heavy support for such a move.

Currently, although recreational marijuana sale and use is unambiguously illegal in New Jersey, medical cannabis is permitted for qualifying patients. The retail industry is therefore quite small and limited; however, it's likely that companies currently involved in medical supply and sale will quickly push into the retail segment.

One is Green Thumb Industries (GTBIF 1.08%), a Chicago-based cannabis company currently operating its Rise network of dispensaries in eight states; its one New Jersey dispensary is in Paterson. Green Thumb hasn't yet commented on the Assembly's passage of the decriminalization bill.

On Thursday, perhaps on the news, Green Thumb did relatively well on the market. Its shares rose by 1.5%, exceeding the gains of the top market indexes on the day.

Eric Volkman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Green Thumb Industries. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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