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State Sen. Dawn Addiego, right, with former Burlington County Freeholder Kate Gibbs

Addiego not worried about primary challenge over marijuana

Recently-Democratic senator still a maybe on legalization

By Nikita Biryukov, March 18 2019 3:16 pm

State Sen. Dawn Addiego, who on Monday said she remains a maybe on marijuana legalization, isn’t worried about a no vote on marijuana prompting a primary challenge from Burlington Democrats.

“There are many Democrats that are against the legalization of marijuana, and for good reason, and there are many good reasons for it,” Addiego said. “That’s why right now my major concern is public safety, and I think that should be everyone’s concern. So, no, I don’t think that’s going to be an issue one way or another because we have people on both sides of the aisle all over the place on this issue.”

Addiego switched to the Democratic party in late January, giving Democrats control of 26 seats in the legislature’s upper chamber, but that boost may not be enough to get the marijuana legalization bill the 21 votes it needs to pass in the Senate.

At least one Demcorat, State Sen. Ron Rice, has indicated he intends to vote against marijuana legalization, and a number of others, including Sens. Brian Stack and Paul Sarlo are leaning towards voting no.

Yet more Democratic senators, Addiego included, are undecided on legalization.

Whipping efforts have just started in earnest, and additional public hearings on marijuana are being held — earlier this month, Stack said he would likely vote no if no additional hearings were held.

Gov. Phil Murphy is involved in those whipping efforts, and it’s possible he’ll put pressure on Addiego directly.

When Addiego defected, Murphy put out a statement calling for her to back Democratic policy initiatives.

“In the days and months ahead, we’ll be continuing the fights to put all New Jersey residents on a path to a livable wage, attack the inequities in our social justice system by legalizing adult-use marijuana, and finally revamp New Jersey’s incentives programs to hold recipients accountable and ensure our residents see the benefits they deserve,” Murphy said at the time.  “I welcome Sen. Addiego to that fight, and I look forward to working with the entire Legislature to make New Jersey a stronger and fairer place in 2019.”

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