By Kyle Glatz
March 25, 2019
TRENTON- Efforts to legalize recreational marijuana fell apart in the 11th hour as the Democrats failed to secure enough votes to pass the bill in the New Jersey Legislature. Although Gov. Phillip Murphy campaigned on making marijuana legal, he has seen only bits and pieces of success.
Although the Democrat Party has a progressive governor in Phil Murphy and control over the Assembly and Senate, many divisions within the party itself resulted in the bill being pulled from the table before it was put to a vote. Major proponents of the bill included Cory Booker, a U.S. Senator from New Jersey as well as a 2020 presidential candidate. Among the 23 or more dissenters from within the Democratic Party was Sen. Ronald Rice who insists that people have not been properly educated on the potential dangers associated with allowing recreational marijuana. Sen. Rice insists that recreational marijuana will lead to struggles in the areas that have dispensaries in them.
Murphy spent most of the last weekend trying to gain support from enough of the 40 New Jersey Senators in hopes that the law could gain enough momentum to be passed before Monday. Still, the bill failed to gain traction, and it is not known if there will be another attempt made any time soon.
The bill that was going to be passed would have made the recreational use of marijuana completely legal for adults over the age of 21. If the number of people who take part in buying the highly taxed marijuana was similar to other states, New Jersey could have seen millions of dollars’ worth of income. These funds could have been used to bolster education, infrastructure, and more. Most importantly, the bill would have made it far easier to expunge the records of people who were convicted for nonviolent marijuana offenses.
Now, it seems as though the bill is going to be left out of consideration for the time being. Earliest estimates indicate that the bill could be brought back for discussion in May 2019. However, less optimistic individuals have said that the bill could not see action again until after the 2019 Assembly elections for New Jersey. Still, the bill for legalization has widespread support across New Jersey, with over 60% of all adults saying they supported the measure.