New Jersey Cannabis Vote Is Off Cannabis users in New Jersey face sad news this week. In spite of months of lobbying and talking heads going back a
New Jersey Cannabis Vote Is Off
Cannabis users in New Jersey face sad news this week. In spite of months of lobbying and talking heads going back and forth, there will be no vote on cannabis legalization in the Garden State. This was a recreational legalization effort that falls flat. Lawmakers who support the effort vow to keep fighting.
New Jersey Cannabis Vote Is Off: About The Bills
In total, 3 bills won’t see the light of day. One of the bills proposed legalized adult cannabis use. Another bill sought expungement for prior cannabis convictions. The final bill proposed an improvement of the State’s medical marijuana program.
Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat who campaigned hard on legalization, was reportedly busy in the time leading up to the vote trying to convince reluctant lawmakers. But despite Democrats controlling both the state Senate and Assembly, they did not meet their goal.
Passage of the bill will have made New Jersey the 11th state to legalize recreational marijuana. Governor Murphy is a staunch advocate who included legalization in his platform. However, he now finds it harder than expected to achieve his goal.
New Jersey Cannabis Vote Is Off: The Broader Implications
While this delay could be temporary, it provides no remedy for the nearly 37,500 people hit with cannabis arrests annually in New Jersey.
Advocates site unfair criminal punishment that disproportionately affects minorities and contributes to the overcrowded prison system. The issue is bigger than recreational cannabis use. The fight will continue based on this and other valid interests.
New Jersey Cannabis Vote Is Off: Republicans Pull Support At The Last Minute
Some lawmakers whom legalization proponents had hoped would put their support behind legalization ultimately withdrew. Sen. Kip Bateman (R Neshanic Station) is a moderate Republican whose yes vote was seen as important to securing the bill’s passage. In 2016, Bateman was among about a dozen New Jersey lawmakers who visited Colorado to get a firsthand look at that state’s cannabis system. At the time he expressed positive surprise and seemed to be leaning toward legalization.
Bateman went on to talk frequently about the necessary bi-partisan effort to achieve legalization for the good of the state and its citizens. According to Leafly, some republicans felt left out of the conversation and that contributed to their reservations. External pressure may have also played a factor.
New Jersey Cannabis Vote Is Off: New Jersey Medical Marijuana Patients Suffer
The decision to call off cannabis votes in the capital also negatively affects the nearly 43,000 medical cannabis patients in the State. They will continue to pay an incredible amount for their medication out of pocket. Legalization, on the other hand, often helps prices drop.
Conversely, New Jersey’s medical cannabis program can’t get off the ground in a meaningful way. A scant 6 dispensaries are available to residents there. This number is even more shocking considering medical cannabis gained legal status a decade ago.
New Jersey Cannabis Vote Is Off: The Fight Continues
Gov. Murphy said that he will continue to fight for legalization and is willing to take what he called drastic measures to achieve it.