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NJ lawmakers considering referendum to legalize cannabis

December 12, 2019 GMT
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This March 22, 2019, photo shows a marijuana plant at Compassionate Care Foundation's medical marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday scheduled hearings on a proposal to let voters decide in 2020 whether to legalize recreational marijuana. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
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This March 22, 2019, photo shows a marijuana plant at Compassionate Care Foundation's medical marijuana dispensary in Egg Harbor Township, N.J. New Jersey lawmakers on Thursday scheduled hearings on a proposal to let voters decide in 2020 whether to legalize recreational marijuana. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey lawmakers held hearings Thursday on a proposal to let voters decide in 2020 whether to legalize recreational marijuana and set a vote for next week in the Legislature.

Democrat-led Assembly and Senate committees held public hearings on the proposed referendum, as required under the law.

Both the Democrat-controlled full Assembly and Senate have scheduled votes on the proposed amendment for Monday.

Lawmakers failed in March to advance legislation legalizing recreational cannabis, despite support from Democratic leaders and Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy, so they plan to seek support from voters.

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The proposed amendment must pass with a three-fifths majority in both houses in a single year, or with a simple majority in two consecutive years in order to appear on the ballot.

Under the amendments, voters are being asked whether to approve recreational marijuana for those 21 and older. All sales of cannabis products would be subject to the 6.625% sales tax. Towns could also pass ordinances to charge a local tax as well.