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State Sen. Anthony M. Bucco (R-Boonton). (Photo: Nikita Biryukov for the New Jersey Globe)

Bucco jabs Democrat over marijuana cleanup bill collapse

By Nikita Biryukov, January 08 2021 6:06 pm

State Sen. Tony Bucco (R-Boonton) said a marijuana cleanup bill whose chances of passing before full votes in either chamber shriveled Friday because Democrats rushed to pass a law enabling legalized marijuana.

“I’ve expressed concerns for a long time that the process to legalize marijuana moved way too quickly and was backwards from the beginning. There are extremely complex criminal, regulatory, social, and tax implications that should have been figured out before a question was placed on the ballot,” Bucco said.

Though it passed committees in both chambers Thursday, sponsors pulled support for a cleanup bill outlining penalties for underage use, concerned the measure would harm the state’s black and Latino residents.

The bill took longer to pass than many in Trenton, having been halted more than once over disagreements between Democratic legislative leaders and Gov. Phil Murphy.

They eventually reached an agreement on tax rates, but the enabling legislation and an accompanying decriminalization bill have sat untouched on Murphy’s desk for roughly three weeks.

But the cleanup bill makes its movement through the legislature even more unusual, if not unprecedented.

“We never should be in the position of having to consider a clean-up bill to legislation that hasn’t even been signed into law,” Bucco said. “Unfortunately, this is yet another example of how my colleagues on the other side of the aisle continually rush forward with amazingly complex legislation that deserves time for thoughtful consideration.”

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