New Jersey’s planned legislative vote on legalizing recreational marijuana was canceled as Senate President Steve Sweeney said it didn’t have enough support to pass.
The bid to end the state’s prohibition was supported by Governor Phil Murphy, fellow Democrats who lead the legislature and public-opinion polls. But that couldn’t overcome opposition from Republicans and some Democrats who took issue with sanctioning a drug that is outlawed by the U.S. government.
“This fight is not over,” Sweeney said in a statement. “We need to learn from this experience and continue to move forward.”
Murphy, though, had warned that today may have been the last chance for lawmakers to send him a bill in 2019. The legislature is about to begin time-consuming budget negotiations for the fiscal year that starts July 1, and then 80 of 120 lawmakers facing Assembly elections in November will focus on their campaigns. New Jersey would have been the 11th state to allow recreational sales and use and first in the Manhattan region.
Some supporters who had considered making marijuana a public-ballot question, as has happened in at least a half-dozen states, said they were leery of that approach because Election Day turnout in November is expected to be low.
Most Republicans and some Democrats had argued that legalization would drive up crime in urban areas, lead users to try harder substances and erode preventive-education programs directed at schoolchildren. Others said New Jersey needed broader opportunities for those convicted of low-level marijuana offenses to clear their criminal records.
Was this article valuable?
Here are more articles you may enjoy.