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New Jersey takes big step toward legalizing recreational pot

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and legislative leaders said Tuesday they’ve agreed on legislation to legalize recreational marijuana for adults. The Democratic trio, including Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Steve Sweeney, announced the agreement in a statement Tuesday after more than a year of negotiations, mostly behind closed doors.

It’s unclear whether there are enough votes in the Democratic-controlled Legislature to pass the bill, but the agreement marks the first time leaders have laid out the details of the plan. Tuesday’s announcement comes just after word emerged that leaders were homing in on a deal.

Murphy, who campaigned in 2017 on legalizing recreational cannabis, cast the legislation as a social justice victory. “Legalizing adult-use marijuana is a monumental step to reducing disparities in our criminal justice system,” Murphy said.

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Unlike earlier versions of the legislation that called for phasing in an escalating sales tax on marijuana, the deal calls for a $42 per ounce tax on the product. It also lets towns collect tax revenue, as well. Municipalities with cannabis retailers could collect 3 per cent tax, those with cultivators will collect 2 per cent and those with wholesalers would get 1 per cent.

The Assembly is expecting a committee vote on the deal on Monday. A floor vote is possible March 25.

– Associated Press

New Mexico weighs America’s first government-run pot shops

New Mexico would become the first U.S. state to set up its own government-operated marijuana stores and subsidize medical cannabis for the poor under a bill brokered between Republicans and Democrats, as a new wave of states weighs legislation that would legalize recreational sales and consumption.

The idea for state-run pot shops comes from a trio of GOP state senators who broke with local Republican Party orthodoxy to embrace legal marijuana with a decidedly big-government approach that would have the state directly oversee most sales — and require that marijuana consumers carry receipts of purchase or confront penalties.

Democratic Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has expressed guarded support for recreational marijuana – provided the legislation addresses concerns about child access, impaired driving, workplace safety and safeguarding the state’s existing marijuana market for medical patients. New Mexico has watched neighbouring Colorado’s pioneering decision to legalize and tax marijuana with a mixture of apprehension and envy, as lawmakers in Santa Fe struggle to find stable sources of tax revenue to improve public education and raise teacher salaries. The judiciary is threatening to intervene in school funding decisions, citing inadequate educational opportunities for children from poor and minority families.

New Mexico would levy a 17 per cent tax on recreational marijuana sales and allow possession of up to 1 ounce (28 grams). Sponsors say the bill would safeguard New Mexico’s medical marijuana program by removing taxes on medical pot to keep down prices and ensure its 70,000 participants don’t flock to the recreational market. Some private dispensaries would be allowed in remote areas at least 40 kilometres from the nearest state-run pot shop.

- Associated Press

48North raises $25M in bought deal

48 North Cannabis Corp. is raising $25-million in a bought deal led by Eight Capital, which is acting as sole bookrunner and lead underwriter. The deal will see 48 North issue roughly 18.4 million common shares and half-share purchase warrants at $1.36. The deal price is a discount to 48 North’s recent trading price, and the company’s shares dropped nearly 12 per cent on Tuesday.

“The Company intends to use the net proceeds of the Offering to fund inventory and for working capital and general corporate purposes,” the company said. “The closing date of the Offering is scheduled to be on or about April 2, 2019 and is subject to certain conditions.”

The share purchase warrants can be exercised for $1.72 for the next five years. If 48 North shares trade above $3.30 for 10 consecutive days, 48 North can “accelerate the expiry date of the Warrants to the date that is 30 days following the date of such written notice,” the company said.

– Staff

OCS call-centre workers vote to unionize

Workers at the call centre of the Ontario Cannabis Store (OCS) voted in favour of unionization with the United Food and Commercial Workers Union on Tuesday. UFCW Canada says that by winning their union certification vote, the workers have become the first union members attached to Ontario’s rapidly growing cannabis sector.

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The call centre is operated by Calgary-based Line One Contact Centres Inc. Workers at the call centre, located in downtown Toronto, provide customer support and mail tracking services for Ontario’s online cannabis store, the union says.

UFCW represents cannabis production and retail workers in California, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, Minnesota and New Mexico. UFCW Canada represents the first unionized cannabis retail workers in Canada, at SQDC locations in Rosemont, Rimouski and Mirabel, Quebec.

– Staff

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