N.J. is on the path to recreational marijuana. Here’s the first step

N.J. lawmakers will begin to debate legislation that would pave the way for recreational marijuana in the state. (Cleveland.com)

The nearly year-long slog to have a multi-billion-dollar legal marijuana industry in the Garden State takes a major first step Monday.

State lawmakers will begin to debate a recently unveiled bill that would pave the way to making New Jersey the latest state to legalize recreational marijuana.

The measure has been debated privately in the Democrat-controlled state Legislature for years, but never stood a chance of becoming a reality under former Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican who stood in staunch opposition.

But with a change in leadership 10-months ago in Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who campaigned on legalizing cannabis, lawmakers are finally set to put the process in motion.

Public discussion on the 147-page “New Jersey Cannabis Regulatory and Expungement Aid Modernization Act” begins Monday, followed by legislative votes to push the measure to the next step in the process: a full vote on the floors of the state Senate and Assembly.

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