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Gov. Phil Murphy. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for the New Jersey Globe)

Murphy backs weed decriminalization as short-term measure

Governor disappointed Legislature punted legalization issue to voters

By David Wildstein, November 26 2019 11:28 am

Gov. Phil Murphy will support legislation to decriminalize marijuana as a short term solution as he awaits a public referendum on legalizing weed in the 2020 general election.

“Decriminalization of adult-use marijuana cannot be our long-term solution, but we now must turn to it for critical short-term relief while we await a ballot measure on legalization next November,” Murphy said in a statement released this morning.  “Maintaining a status quo that sees roughly 600 individuals, disproportionately people of color, arrested in New Jersey every week for low-level drug offenses is wholly unacceptable.”

Democratic legislative leaders had declined to consider legalizing weed during the lame duck session, instead opting to let New Jersey voters decide in the next general election.

“Although I remain disappointed in the Legislature’s inability to legislatively legalize adult-use marijuana, I am optimistic that the people of New Jersey, who overwhelmingly support legalization, will vote to do so,” said Murphy.  “And, when they do, we will take a critical and long overdue step for real criminal justice reform.”

Murphy pledged to work with the leadership and the Legislative Black and Latino caucuses to pass decriminalization legislation quickly.

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