NJ Politics Digest: Pot Legalization Efforts Could Be Facing High Odds

If the state Senate were to vote today on whether New Jersey should legalize marijuana for recreational use, the bill would fail.


If the state Senate were to vote today on whether New Jersey should legalize marijuana for recreational use, the bill would fail. Leon Neal/AFP/Getty Images

Gov. Phil Murphy is counting on legalization of recreational marijuana use—and the tax dollars it will generate—to help fund some of his legislative priorities in the coming years.

But Murphy could be in for a disappointment, according to a survey of state lawmakers conducted by the publication NJ Cannabis Insider.

The publication, a new product by NJ Advance Media intended as a guide to the state’s efforts to legalize recreational marijuana use, found that few in either house are willing to go on the record supporting Murphy’s plan.

A poll of lawmakers found five senators who said they would vote yes, 20 who said they will vote no and 15 who claim to be undecided or declined to respond. A total of 21 senators would need to approve the measure.

In the Assembly, where 41 votes are needed, five said they would vote yes, six said they will vote no and 68 say they are undecided or didn’t respond.

There is still time for proponents of the bill to round up support.

State Sen. Nicholas Scutari (D-Union), lead sponsor of the legalization legislation and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, has said he is undecided if he’ll make changes to his bill. And some legislators told the publication they didn’t want to reveal their intentions to better preserve their bargaining position.

Meanwhile, opponents of the efforts have been moving forward with alternatives to full legalization, including a bipartisan measure that would decriminalize, not legalize, marijuana possession and make it easier to expunge some past marijuana arrests.

Quote of the Day: “New Jersey’s sharp rise in anti-Semitic incidents this past year confirm what all of us have perceived: anti-Semitic incidents are proliferating, and perpetrators of hate have become emboldened.” — Joshua Cohen, New Jersey regional director for the Anti-Defamation League, on the increase in anti-Semitic incidents in 2017.

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NJ Politics Digest: Pot Legalization Efforts Could Be Facing High Odds