Democratic leaders in the state are not moving to legalize marijuana amid the COVID-19 crisis, Gov. Phil Murphy said Thursday.
“To the best of my knowledge, we’ve not had any discussions about fast-tracking weed legalization,” the governor said.
Democratic lawmakers in both chambers of the legislature cleared a ballot initiative to legalize weed during the lame duck session in December after multiple failed attempts to legalize marijuana through legislation.
Legalizing now could provide the state with some additional revenue to make up for budget shortfalls created by the pandemic.
Still, it’s not clear whether a legalization push now would be any more successful than those made over the past two years.
Senate President Steve Sweeney said he doubted the bill would fare much better now than it did before.
“I would’ve passed it if I could’ve gotten 21 votes,” he said. “The people that are opposed to it, they’re not changing their position, you know?”
Though the constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana secured 24 affirmative votes in the Senate needed to get onto the ballot without much ado, Democrats in the chamber could never whip 21 yes votes for more immediate legalization measures.
“It’s just generational. Most of my members that are over 70 were opposed to it,” Sweeney said. “I would love to be able to get it done, but we tried, and we didn’t get there.”
The state’s voters view marijuana more favorably than their senators.
According to a Monmouth University poll released Thursday, 61% of the 635 registered voters polled said they would back the legalization referendum in November, while 34% said they would oppose it.