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Gov. Phil Murphy. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Murphy unsure about marijuana bill’s chances

Governor remains optimistic

By Nikita Biryukov, March 21 2019 3:46 pm

Gov. Phil Murphy isn’t sure whether the marijuana legalization bill pushed by him and Democratic legislative leaders will secure the votes it needs to reach his desk Monday.

“I’m an optimist. I don’t know,” Murphy said when asked if the legalization bill had a realistic chance of passing votes in both chambers of the legislatures this coming Monday. “I don’t want to, in any way, declare victory — I certainly don’t want to declare defeat — so we’re just going to keep grinding away.”

At a press conference later Thursday, Murphy was declined to say whether his efforts to lobby Democratic lawmakers not sold on the legalization bill had flipped any no votes, saying only that “we are making progress.” He did not elaborate on the nature of that progress.

Sources have told the New Jersey Globe that Democrats are short six votes of the 21-vote threshold needed to pass the legalization bill in the Senate.

While some senators, like Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Newark), are considered immovable on the issue, a number of senators are still undecided. Those in the latter group will likely make up their minds over the weekend, meaning there’s still some life to the bill.

“I think it’s too early to tell. It remains very close. We’re making progress, but we’re not there yet,” Murphy said. “It’s Thursday. We’ve got till Monday. We’re using every minute we’ve got, so I think we’re continuing to pound away. I had good conversations with both the senate president and the speaker in terms of going through names and strategies, etc.”

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