NJ Politics Digest: Medical Marijuana May Be Tied to Recreational Use

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy. Kevin B. Sanders for Observer

Gov. Phil Murphy said he planned to expand the New Jersey’s medical marijuana program in order to provide to relief to patients after efforts to legalize and tax recreational use of the drug failed in the legislature.

But now Murphy has apparently rethought those efforts, choosing instead to keep medical marijuana tethered to legalization efforts in an effort to force approval of the plan, according to reports.

After Senate President Steve Sweeney pulled a vote on the legalization plan Monday when it became clear there weren’t enough votes to pass it, Murphy said he intended to “aggressively” expand the state’s medical marijuana program, according to Politico.

Expanding the medical program is thought to have much wider support than the legalization effort. State Democratic leaders worry that without the carrot of helping sick patients, they won’t be able to convince certain legislators and their wary constituents to approve of allowing recreational use.

NJ.com reports that sources say Murphy will reconsider the plan to expand the medical program if Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin still can’t muster enough votes for legalization by May.

Quote of the Day: “The pairing of medical with recreational—as a method to twist the arms of people who want to vote for medical but don’t want to vote for recreational—I don’t think there’s a moral justification for that,” Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, on Gov. Phil Murphy rethinking plans to expand the state’s medical marijuana program in an attempt to force approval of a plan to legalize and tax the recreational use of marijuana.

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NJ Politics Digest: Medical Marijuana May Be Tied to Recreational Use