State Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-Gloucester) claims he has the votes to pass NJ cannabis legalization and reform is imminent.
Last month, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal issued a memo to prosecutors statewide. It was designed to halt marijuana prosecutions throughout the state until September 4, 2018.
As expected, Governor Murphy supported this decision. However, just days before, there was conflict over a similar decision in Jersey City that the Attorney General ultimately supported.
Countless New Jerseyans are caught up in low-level possession charges that torment them for the rest of their lives—hindering job, housing and other opportunities.
The time is now to legalize marijuana and repair communities disrupted by the misguided war on drugs.
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) July 27, 2018
By September, it is suspected that NJ cannabis legalization will be further along, if not already voted on.
Today, statements by Senate President Steve Sweeney support the notion that NJ cannabis legalization is imminent.
“I’m confident we‘ll get to 21 and 41,” Sweeney said.
According to Politico this referred to the minimum number of votes needed for passage in the Senate and Assembly, respectively.
“I‘m not going to get to 28. But I’m confident I’ll get to 21 votes, and the speaker will find 41,” he added.
Sweeney is more than optimistic that cannabis legalization is right around the corner. Lawmakers should see an actual bill in a few more weeks.
He cautions that some legislators will never support NJ cannabis legalization. But he knows he has enough support to make it happen. He is confident that many who have not publicly supported legalization will support the legislation. “Don’t be surprised when people who say they were against it vote for it,” he said. It makes sense when a majority of voters support legalization.
A major point that Sweeney emphasizes is the need for a lower tax than Governor Murphy has proposed.
His concern is that the black market will continue to thrive if the regulated market cannot compete.
“I don’t want [the tax rate] to be 25 percent. Because then you’re just going to keep the black market alive,” he said. “If you tax it too high, you incentivize people to use the black market because you’ve raised the price too high.”
It is urgent that NJ cannabis legalization happen immediately. Patients and NJ residents continue to be arrested daily. That’s even though the arrests will not be prosecuted and, ultimately, very likely, dismissed.