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NJ Gov. Phil Murphy Signs Marijuana Law; NJ Capacity Restrictions; Philly Teachers Getting Vaccines
  by: iradioal - Philadelphia, PA
started: 02/23/21 12:28 am | updated: 02/23/21 12:28 am
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed legislation on Monday, 2/22, that paves the way for a new legal marijuana marketplace in the Garden State. Voters overwhelmingly approved the legalization of marijuana for 21+ use through a ballot question in the November 2020 election, however, the specifics on how it would work was left to the Legislature to pass legislation. The Democrat-led Assembly and Senate passed a last-minute measure Monday that included lower penalties for underage possession of the drug. The penalties on underage possession have been reduced to a series of warnings. The legislation also sets up a recreational marijuana marketplace and decriminalizes cannabis. There are pathways set up for current and past offenders to deal with convictions for possession of small amounts of pot. The Cannabis Regulatory Commission will handle taxes and regulations.

SEE ALSO: Governor Murphy Signs Historic Adult-Use Cannabis Reform Bills Into Law

"Our current marijuana prohibition laws have failed every test of social justice, which is why for years I've strongly supported the legalization of adult-use cannabis. Maintaining a status quo that allows tens of thousands, disproportionately people of color, to be arrested in New Jersey each year for low-level drug offenses is unjust and indefensible," said Governor Murphy. "This November, New Jerseyans voted overwhelmingly in support of creating a well-regulated adult-use cannabis market. Although this process has taken longer than anticipated, I believe it is ending in the right place and will ultimately serve as a national model.

"This legislation will establish an industry that brings equity and economic opportunity to our communities, while establishing minimum standards for safe products and allowing law enforcement to focus their resources on real public safety matters," continued Governor Murphy. "Today, we're taking a monumental step forward to reduce racial disparities in our criminal justice system, while building a promising new industry and standing on the right side of history. I'd like to thank the Legislature, advocates, faith leaders, and community leaders for their dedicated work and partnership on this critical issue."

New Jersey is lifting some coronavirus COVID-19 capacity restrictions. Effective immediately, houses of worship and religious services can open up to 50% capacity. Masks are required and members of different households must be six feet apart. Collegiate sports practices and competitions may allow 2 parents or guardians per participating athlete. The total number can't exceed 35% for indoor facilities. If outdoor, remember to social distance. Starting March 1, sports and entertainment venues with a fixed capacity of over 5,000 people can have spectators. Indoor: 10% Outdoor: 15%. The NHL's New Jersey Devils play at Prudential Center in Newark which 19,500 capacity. NCAA Seton Hall Pirates are also scheduled to play the last game of the season there on March 3. There is no word on fans being allowed yet.

School District of Philadelphia teachers and staff started to receive vaccines on Monday, 2/22. The clinic is being run at the Roberts Center at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. A special portal has been set up for school staff to login and setup appointments. PreK-2nd grade students were scheduled to return to classes today to start a hybrid schedule, but that was pushed back until next Monday, March 1. The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers raised concerns about the safety of school buildings including ventilation. The safety is currently being inspected by a third-party mediator. All teachers, support staff, administration, classroom aides, janitors, etc. will be vaccinated over the coming weeks.

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