January 14, 2019

August 14, 2018, New Jersey

Democrats in New Jersey are vying to pass a comprehensive marijuana bill from the state Senate as early as September. According to the Democrat president of Senate and co-author of the ambitious bill Stephen Sweeney, the legislators are getting closer to voting on cannabis.

Nevertheless, it is not clear what exactly will be presented on the Senate floor. The bill in question talks about the expansion of medical marijuana program and legalizing recreational marijuana. It needs revision and subsequent approval from various Senate committees to be ready for the lawmakers’ vote.

With the progress Governor Office has made on cannabis reforms since Phil Murphy assumed the office, it is really bewildering to see that the state legislature can’t steer the debate on cannabis in the right direction. Acrimonious debates and delayed negotiations can only be witnessed in the legislature over the possibility of legal recreational marijuana.

Vote on Recreational Cannabis
Vote on Recreational Cannabis – Image powered by Equities.com

It is worth remembering that cannabis reforms were a major talking point of Phil Murphy during the gubernatorial campaign. In first few months after assuming the office, he expanded the state’s MMJ program by adding more qualifying medical conditions to it. However, it seems like he is submitting to the lawmakers on the question of adult-use legalization.

For instance, his office disapproved the combination bill in June, which entails the legalization of adult-use marijuana and the expansion of the MMJ program. Governor office along with many other lawmakers had reservations on the fullness of the bill. They wanted both provisions to be put forward in separate bills.

The lawmakers who authored the bill are now rewriting the bill so that it can be prepared for the review from the relevant committees. As soon as Senate review committees green light the bill, it will be presented on the floor for voting. In order to become the part of state legislation, the bill has to get the nod of approval from both chambers (Senate and House) of the bicameral assembly. After that, it will go to Gov. Murphy’s desk for the final ratification.

Gov. Phil Murphy
Gov. Phil Murphy – Image powered by Nj.com

Murphy holds libertarian views regarding cannabis, but he has made it clear in the past few months that he won’t sign any legalization bill without reviewing all its provisions. He has hinted various times that criminal legal reforms and social justice must be the cornerstone of any recreational legalization bill. His spokesperson has also told the media that the governor will only ratify a legalization measure that can help in addressing the racial disparity stemming from the criminalization of cannabis.

While lawmakers are trying to work out a functional bill, the state prosecutors have started providing some sort of relief to all those people struck hardest by the crackdowns against cannabis. New Jersey’s Attorney General has instructed every state prosecutor to hold all cannabis-related court cases until September. In other words, the state has put a temporary stop on the criminalization of cannabis. Cannabis advocates are hoping that this provisional decriminalization of marijuana turns into a permanent one in September with the approval of adult-use legalization of marijuana.

Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]


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