This is now the second time the NJ cannabis deadline to address the referendum enabling decriminalization cannabis bills S. 21, and A. 2535, has been moved after the Assembly quorum that was rescheduled from February 8th till today. It was delayed from today to tomorrow initially because of snow.
Since governing New Jersey in a pandemic and snowstorm apparently is not important, there’s still time for an 11th-hour deal to save legalization with the quorum moved.
There is hope the clean-up bill can be passed in committee and the legislature. That would then give Governor Phil Murphy largely what he wants to sign into law. The clean-up bill would primarily address what is to happen to minors caught with cannabis. There is currently some agreement around a three-tiered system.
Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) has begun whipping votes for the bill. The clean-up bill started as a conversation on what to do about minors caught with cannabis. It has now moved to what needs to be done about police who disproportionately target minorities. It seems Governor Phil Murphy is not happy about that. However, if the clean-up bill passes otherwise, he is willing to support it.
“If nobody wants it done, steps could have been taken ten days ago to crush this,” NJ Cannabis Business Association (NJCBA) President Ed DeVeaux said regarding the first move of the second quorum.
The ACLU NJ (on whose pro-cannabis coalition I serve full disclosure) started a petition to end the delay of NJ cannabis saying on Twitter “NJ voters said yes to legalizing marijuana with the largest majority in US history. But 3+ months later, arrests are happening every day. The human toll is too high. We need the Legislature and Gov. Murphy to agree to make legalization a reality. We know they can take this over the finish line. We all want the same thing. Let’s bring it home.”
NJ Cannabis Tumult
“It’s one of those things legends are made of,” DeVeaux said, noting that in certain situations, the New Jersey legislature has sent bills through committee quickly to make a deadline successfully.
This often happens with the annual state budget, which must be approved before the end of the state’s fiscal year in June.
“If there’s no drama, it’s not Trenton,” DeVeaux said.
“This is that important,” DeVeaux said, comparing the seriousness of NJ cannabis to the state budget. “We’re talking about saving people’s lives through expungement, creating opportunities through licenses, saving the state budget.”
DeVeaux noted the state has already lost hundreds of millions of dollars in potential revenue from the industry.