Lawmakers in New Jersey will try again to make adult-use cannabis legal in their state, according to a story from NJ.com. The story reports that New Jersey state Senate President Stephen Sweeney says there is a “50/50” possibility it may actually happen this time. He also says he will “put his best effort into it”.
Earlier this year, there were talks about legalizing adult-use cannabis in the Garden State, but the bill died because of a lack of votes. New Jersey senators say that they will begin making another push to legalize adult-use cannabis in their state after upcoming elections on November 5th.
When the bill was voted on earlier this year, Sweeney says it was two votes shy of passing. There were 19 ‘yes’ votes, but there needed to be 21 to make it a reality.
“Since I’ve been Senate president, this is the issue I committed to that I’ve had the toughest time getting over the finish line,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney added that there is both bipartisan support and opposition to legalizing adult-use cannabis in New Jersey, with both Democrats and Republicans having their personal opinions on the matter. Sweeney called it a “generational issue” and pointed out that Senators who oppose legalization in the Garden State are mostly older. “You can only push so hard on people, when it’s really their belief,” he said.
Lawmakers in support of legal cannabis in New Jersey have already put a backup plan into motion, should this current push for a legalization bill die again. The backup plan is to pass a resolution to allow voters to decide whether they want legal recreational cannabis in their home state. If the resolution passes, this issue could be voted on in the upcoming 2020 voting season.
Voter referendum is the way that most states have legalized cannabis. Only Vermont and Illinois passed legal cannabis bills legislatively. Sweeney has said that he would prefer to go the legislative route, as this would be an easier way to make future changes. But Sweeney says no matter how legal adult-use cannabis comes to New Jersey, it’s going to happen.
“One way or another, we’re gonna get marijuana in the state. The very best scenario is we pass it (legislatively),” the Senate president added. “Then there’s no waiting,” he said.
Time will tell if there will be a voter referendum or if lawmakers can pass it through the legislature. In the meantime, there is a push to decriminalize cannabis to remove criminal penalties for personal use possession down to the equivalent of a traffic fine.