NJ Politics Digest: Sweeney Says He Has the Votes to Legalize Pot

State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has already already ordered municipal prosecutors to hold off on pursuing marijuana cases until September
State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has already already ordered municipal prosecutors to hold off on pursuing marijuana cases until September. MARTIN BERNETTI/AFP/Getty Images

Proponents of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana have been disappointed in the amount of time it is taking Gov. Phil Murphy and the Democratic legislature to approve such a measure.

But Senate President Steve Sweeney now says he has the votes to pass such a bill by the end of next month, according to POLITICO.

In an interview with the site, Sweeney said that while he and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin probably won’t be able to muster overwhelming support for legalizing recreational marijuana use and the state’s expanding medical marijuana, he’s convinced he can get enough votes to pass both measures.

One reason is that Sweeney intends to tie the two together, so folks who support expanding medical marijuana will have to vote for legalizing recreational pot use, the Senate president told POLITICO.

“Don’t be surprised when people who say they were against it vote for it,” Sweeney said, predicting Republicans who support expanding medical marijuana will support legalization, too.

Republicans are not the only ones who oppose legalizing recreational marijuana. Several Democratic legislators, led by Sen. Ron Rice, leader of the Legislative Black Caucus, prefer a move to decriminalize pot.

State Attorney General Gurbir Grewal has already already ordered municipal prosecutors to hold off on pursuing marijuana cases until September, when his office intends to issue guidelines.

Sweeney said he was also opposed to imposing a steep 25 percent tax on legalized marijuana, reasoning that such a steep rate would just encourage people to keep buying illegal weed.

Quote of the Day: “There’s some people that will never support it and there are some people who are just hedging their bets because there’s not a bill to look at.” — Senate President Steve Sweeney, on legislative support for legalizing recreational marijuana use.

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NJ Politics Digest: Sweeney Says He Has the Votes to Legalize Pot