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Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Coughlin lauds marijuana bill advancement

Speaker declines to say if he has the votes to pass the measure next Monday

By Nikita Biryukov, March 18 2019 7:53 pm

Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin lauded the advancement of a marijuana legalization bill advanced by the Assembly Appropriations Committee Monday.

“I’m very encouraged to see the adult-use cannabis bill was approved by the Assembly Appropriations Committee today,” Coughlin said. “We have worked collaboratively on the details with the Governor and the Senate and will continue to work together to secure the votes needed for passage.”

Legislative leaders and Gov. Phil Murphy are aiming to pass the marijuana legalization bill on March 25, but it isn’t clear whether that deadline will get pushed like so many before it.

Liza Acevedo, a spokeswoman for Coughlin, did not immediately respond to a text message sent at 7:25 p.m. seeking comment on whether he had the votes to pass the bill next week.

On previous attempts, marijuana legalization stalled because a lack of votes in the senate, and though Democrats control 26 seats in the legislature’s upper chamber, enough Democratic senators are opposed to or undecided on marijuana legalization to imperil the bill’s chances.

So far, only one Republican senator, State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, has indicated he could vote in the bill’s favor, but his support hinges on a number of concessions Democrats are unlikely to give, especially with the final vote set a week away.

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