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State Sen. Declan O'Scanlon. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

O’Scanlon a soft no on marijuana

By Nikita Biryukov, March 18 2019 4:38 pm

State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon is a no on marijuana right now, but that could change if legislative leaders take great pains to court his vote.

“There is a way to get my vote, but it’s through a fierce good-government mandate as part of this bill,” O’Scanlon said. “Folks that don’t want to give me that, that tells you something about their motivation and whether they really care about the money and care about good government.”

The senator said he’d like to see the state dedicate all proceeds from legal marijuana sales to restoring county 911 system infrastructure upgrades, training drug recognition experts and boosting opioid addiction treatment programs.

Legislative leaders have repeatedly downplayed the importance of the revenue legalized marijuana will generate for the state, instead focusing on the bill’s social justice elements.

Still, while Senate President Steve Sweeney may end up needing a Republican vote or two to pass a marijuana legalization bill in the senate, it’s unlikely he and Gov. Phil Murphy would be willing to make the concessions sought by O’Scanlon given how long it took the two to reach a marijuana deal.

“If we’re going to do this, we need to do it the right way,” O’Scanlon said. “We need to fix the flaws in the bill — and there are some. We need to make sure we’re dealing legitimately with the fair safety concerns and questions people have over young people accessing edibles, for instance.”

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