New Jersey governor: Push to legalize recreational marijuana is short on votes

Days ahead of a planned vote in the Legislature that would make New Jersey the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana, Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday the measure is short of the votes needed to pass next week.

The Democrat spoke during a news conference alongside more than a dozen supporters of the bill, including the NAACP and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey.

Murphy said he and legislative leaders are “making progress, but we have a ways to go.”

Murphy and two fellow Democrats, Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin and Senate President Steve Sweeney, support the measure, which would legalize recreational cannabis for people 21 and older.

But lawmakers have expressed reluctance, and the vote’s outcome Monday is uncertain. Forty-one votes are needed in the Assembly and 21 in the Senate.

Murphy’s push Thursday comes after the bills advanced March 18 in Assembly and Senate committees more than a year after Murphy took office on a promise that he would legalize recreational MJ.

The bill would bring in an estimated $60 million initially in new tax revenues, which has led to criticism that Murphy wants to legalize the drug as a tax grab.

But Murphy on Thursday rebutted those attacks and cast the bill as unmistakably tied to relieving racial injustice, citing a higher rate of marijuana-related arrests among black people.

He also aimed at lawmakers who worry about the exposure of marijuana to young people.

“Our kids are exposed with no regulations,” he said. “The bad guys run the business.”

Most states have used ballot initiatives to do so, but New Jersey is pushing it through the Legislature.

– Associated Press 

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8 comments on “New Jersey governor: Push to legalize recreational marijuana is short on votes
  1. DJF on

    Pulling for NJ! At least Murphy is trying to quell the concerns and is an ally of those wanting cannabis legalization and reform. Here in NYS it is stigma, fear, and misinformation that is leading the way. No voice at the top, just groups coming out stating this will be an epidemic (teens using drugs in the streets, wild west on the roads and streets, mass hysteria). Don’t let the reefer madness get in your way of what is rightfully yours, which is legal access to this plant. It is your birth right!

  2. Michael Alexander on

    Appeal to common sense…less people crowding the jail system, less people in health care due to opioid addiction, more jobs, more tax revenue and less crime to boot…take a look at stats from other legal States in the NE. Its a win win.

  3. Scott R on

    Damn shame the lawmakers aren’t using common sense if they where this would
    Be an absolute no brainer. How could anyone with a stitch of common sense not pass this bill.. less stress on our jail/court system.. less drug pushers on the corner.. known to help people with opiate addiction.. how could they possibly vote no if they truly have our best interest in mind… they are elected
    To inact the will of the people
    How many polls have to show that people want legalization??

  4. NR on

    Passing this bill would hopefully help with taxes in NJ. It would definitely create jobs,
    Give rebirth to certain municipalities, push the dealers out of the way, and take control of what is already sold on the streets. Stop fearing and educate yourselves!

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