NJ recreational marijuana bill stalling, but overall prospects still look bright

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Image of Atlantic City, New Jersey

The probability of an adult-use marijuana bill passing in New Jersey before a June 30 budget deadline reportedly is declining, but lawmakers still look poised to approve recreational MJ within the next year, according to a policy analyst and advocate.

The current effort is hitting a snag because of state budget squabbles as well as lack of consensus over the details of a marijuana industry, according to NorthJersey.com.

Despite that hiccup, Karen O’Keefe, director of state policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, said that New Jersey has a lot of momentum for legalizing recreational cannabis even if it doesn’t occur in the next week because of the budget stalemate.

“There’s work to be done (on the issue),” O’Keefe told Marijuana Business Daily, but she noted that Gov. Phil Murphy is a strong advocate, Senate President Steve Sweeney is on board and State Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin “is coming around.”

In fact, a bill to legalize adult use, introduced June 7, was co-sponsored by Sweeney and fellow Senate Democrat Nicholas Scutari.

New Jersey has a year-long Legislature, so the legalization effort could be picked up again after June 30.

Murphy especially has been a strong supporter of legalizing marijuana and, soon after taking office this year, expanded the state’s medical marijuana program.