How psilocybin slowed down legalization in New Jersey

Published Dec 29, 2020 01:00 p.m. ET
iStock / Yarygin

Residents who recently won the right to consume cannabis have only made it through a fraction of the challenge. The ballot, which garnered an incredible show of support when it was voted upon, did so in the middle of a pandemic and during one of the most controversial elections in US history, so the finally achieved goal has been widely celebrated as an incredible win for both the region and the cannabis industry. However, there is still plenty left to figure out, including how the market will work.

Didn't voters already approve marijuana legalization in NJ?

In New Jersey, voters passed a constitutional amendment that will have marijuana legalization come into full effect on New Year's Day for adults aged 21 and older. They didn't decide how the market would be run or regulated, and other important specifics such as whether or not and how much pot products should be taxed and where those brand-new funds should go.

These significant details are required for there to be a legal cannabis industry in New York. Unfortunately, it's taking longer than what most had initially anticipated for government officials to iron out the details of what consumers, investors, and entrepreneurs can expect moving forward for the recreational market with this brand-new legislation.

How did psilocybin slow this down?

A measure to downgrade the possession of psilocybin, bringing it from a third-degree crime down to a far less severe disorderly person's offence, was added to the Senate's version of the marijuana legalization bill just before it was passed. Senator Nick Scuatari first introduced it. It's been a much debated, and heavily deliberated option intended to save time, as it could take months or even more to get a separate ballot passed to decriminalize psilocybin alone.

Of course, as could have been expected, several Senate members took issue with the language included in the new amendment to decriminalize psilocybin, which led to a much longer planning process. Luckily, though it's taking longer than many had hoped, the assembly is currently hammering out plans through two key bills that have been proposed, and though no decision has been set in stone just yet, consumers don't mind what they've heard so far.

Two New Jersey plan bill possibilities

The two key bills differ significantly from one another. The first rewriting state laws currently call for the possession and distribution of up to 5 pounds of cannabis to be punishable by up to five years in prison. The adjusted measure sets a maximum of 6 ounces for personal possession per person. The second one focuses on cannabis tax amounts and revenue, which were major motivators for such a positive show of support for the cause.

A sliding scale has been proposed to tax cannabis cultivators based on the prices licensed producers set for their products. One ounce of cannabis costing $350 or more will be taxed at a low cost of $10, and those who charge $200 or less per ounce will be paying up to $60 per ounce in taxes. There are also two other levels to this sliding scale that fall right in the middle to ensure that everyone is paying their fair share to the state.

Hopeful for the future

New Jersey residents are anxiously awaiting the final vote results, which are set to take place by December 17th,2020. Still, most are also excited about the possibilities for the future of both the state on an economic level and the global cannabis industry as a whole. Marijuana legalization becoming official is the perfect end to a terrible year, and the decriminalization of psilocybin is just the topping on the metaphorical cake. The future of the recreational substance market is looking hopeful, and that is a truly wonderful thing.

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