New compromise offered to finally end dispute holding up N.J. legal weed

Lawmakers have introduced a new proposal for penalizing those under 21 who are caught with marijuana, a move that could bring Gov. Phil Murphy closer to signing a bill to legalize weed.

But this bill must receive committee approval Monday and pass both the state Senate and Assembly by next Thursday, the latest deadline for Murphy to take action on bills to establish a legal marijuana industry and another to end arrests for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

If it does not, Murphy will have to act on the bills as they are.

Voters said yes to legalizing marijuana in a landslide election in November, and lawmakers passed the legalization and decriminalization bills by mid-December.

But Murphy has said he will not sign the bills until they establish uniform, civil penalties for those under 21 caught with marijuana. The current bills are at odds with one another, with one eliminating all penalties for possessing up to six ounces of marijuana and the other making underage possession a disorderly persons offense.

Debates on how to handle those penalties have stalled the bills for six weeks. In that time, police have arrested more than 2,000 people for minor marijuana possession, according to the state judiciary. [Read more at]

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