NJ Politics Digest: Lawmakers Argue for Legal Weed Referendum

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi of Bergen County.

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi of Bergen County. (Photo: Alyana Alfaro for Observer)

As a plan by New Jersey Democratic leaders to legalize the recreational use of marijuana is moving closer to reality, opponents of the idea want to put the question to you, the voters.

Two state lawmakers—a Republican and a Democrat—are putting together legislation for a state-wide referendum on whether weed should be sold and taxed legally in the state, according to a report by NJ.com.

Holly Schepisi of Bergen and state Sen. Ronald Rice of Essex both oppose the deal reached by Gov. Phil Murphy, State Sen. President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin to legalize recreational marijuana and impose a state tax of $42 per ounce.

They say their plan will will give opponents and supporters the opportunity to educate voters on what they are getting with marijuana legalization, according to the NJ.com report.

With the leaders of both houses of the legislature seeking to move ahead their own proposal, it’s unlikely representatives will be given a chance to vote on whether or not to offer a referendum. And Murphy, who supports legalizing recreational use of pot and placing a state tax on it, is opposed to putting the question to voters, a spokesman told NJ.com.

However, there is a chance Rice and Schepisi could see their plan work. It’s unclear yet if the Democratic leaders can find the support needed to pass their plan, and by introducing their measure, Rice and Schepisi could give legislators on the fence a way to punt the issue to voters.

Quote of the Day: “Right now, they’re just hearing soundbites. Let’s allow the public to become educated before they make a determination of whether or not this is what they really want,” — Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi, on her proposal to stage a state-wide referendum on legalizing recreational marijuana use.

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NJ Politics Digest: Lawmakers Argue for Legal Weed Referendum