New Jersey Gets Closer to Legalizing Marijuana

(Bloomberg) -- New Jersey is getting closer to legalizing marijuana.

Lawmakers have introduced bills to create a state bank for cannabis-related businesses and exempt medical marijuana from the sales tax. They also are expected to take up a recreational pot bill on Oct. 29.

Governor Phil Murphy, a Democrat who took office in January, pledged to legalize the drug, even as the U.S continues to ban it. New Jersey’s moves come as Canada today became the second country, after Uruguay, to legalize cannabis use.

New Jersey legislation introduced on Oct. 15 by Assemblyman John McKeon, a Democrat from West Orange, notes that many financial institutions reject any tie to such deposits and other transactions for fear of running afoul of federal law. Without access, businesses accumulate cash, “which can endanger public safety by encouraging criminal activity, such as armed robbery, money laundering and tax evasion,” the bill states. It is pending a hearing in the Assembly financial institutions and insurance committee.

A second bill, to exempt medical marijuana -- legal in New Jersey -- from the sales and use tax, was introduced on Oct. 15 and is pending before the Assembly health committee.

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