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.
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.
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 (OTC:GTBI.F), 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.