Rumors of the demise of New Jersey marijuana legalization might have been significantly exaggerated.
Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Stephen Sweeney in current days have mentioned they’d be open to making an attempt to cross a legislation to legalize weed within the Backyard State later this 12 months, through the “lame duck” legislative session after Election Day.
“I feel I have been constant that I hoped we may have another shot at this,” Murphy instructed reporters on Thursday. “Getting one thing to occur sooner, if we’ve an actual shot at that, I might be all in. … Depend me all in to try to work towards that.”
Final week, Sweeney told NJ Advance Media that he’d “make another run” at legalizing marijuana via the legislative course of. The interview got here almost three months after Sweeney introduced that legalizing marijuana for leisure functions wouldn’t “be realized at this time.”
As a substitute, Sweeney mentioned he’d doubtless put marijuana legalization a poll problem through the 2020 election. Since then, Illinois legislators voted to legalize weed whereas the drug was decriminalized in New York.
However the activists who’ve pushed for marijuana legalization since even earlier than Murphy took workplace have been gradual to leap on board.
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As a substitute, they’ve continued speaking with legislators through the gradual summer time months within the hopes of a official push to legalize weed via the Legislature, mentioned Invoice Caruso, an lawyer and cofounder of New Jersey United for Marijuana Reform, a marijuana legalization activist group.
“I do not assume there’s been an enormous constituency behind (the poll measure),” Caruso mentioned. “However individuals are nonetheless behind the concept they’ll get this accomplished within the lame duck session — and if they’ll, we must always strive.”
Advocates like Caruso and a few legislators have been pushing to legalize marijuana in New Jersey since Murphy took workplace. They got here shut in March, when the Senate was just a few votes short from placing a authorized weed invoice on the ground. The Meeting had sufficient votes to cross the measure.
Whereas the Meeting had sufficient votes to cross the authorized weed measure, there was by no means sufficient assist within the Senate, as quite a few Democrats — including a number of prominent black senators from city districts — refused to assist full marijuana legalization.
Within the aftermath of Sweeney’s authorized weed derailment, legislators as a substitute handed a medical marijuana growth invoice — which legalized edibles and elevated the month-to-month allotment for sufferers — and expungement reform bill, which might make marijuana crimes eligible for expungement and lower the ready interval to a few years.
Within the months since, there’s been an rising hum that decriminalization could possibly be seen as a stopgap if the votes nonetheless aren’t there to legalize weed, Caruso mentioned.
In Could, Assemblywoman Annette Quijano, D-Union, sponsored a invoice that may primarily decriminalize the drug. Below that invoice, possession of beneath two ounces of marijuana could be punishable by a $50 nice. It cleared the Meeting Appropriations Committee.
However the state’s strongest authorized weed advocates say that decriminalization does not go far sufficient, since promoting marijuana would nonetheless be a felony and the invoice would do “nothing” to address the black market or preserve pot away from children, Caruso mentioned.
Particularly not with the potential revival of the marijuana legalization invoice.
“Folks have gotten away from Trenton in order that they’re beginning to digest issues,” he mentioned. Legislators are interacting with their communities and one of many issues I feel they’re beginning to hear is, ‘legalization is inevitable. Why aren’t we doing this?'”
Mike Davis writes in regards to the seemingly endless push to legalize marijuana in New Jersey, together with the consequences it will have on the economic system, the black market and common folks. No, he cannot inform you the place to purchase unlawful medicine. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @byMikeDavis.
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