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

O’Scanlon says he was a ‘hard no’ on legal weed

By Nikita Biryukov, March 26 2019 1:28 pm

In a statement released Tuesday, State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon said he never supported the marijuana legalization bill package that was pulled from the board yesterday after it became clear Senate Democrats would not reach the 21-vote threshold needed to pass the measure.

“With regard to the bill package that Senate President Sweeney removed from the Senate calendar on March 25, I was a hard ‘NO’ vote. It has been reported that I was willing to trade my vote for funding for projects or causes specific to my Monmouth County district. It has also been reported that I was a ‘soft yes’ vote,” O’Scanlon said. “Those reports are fake news that were published by outlets that either did not speak with me or misunderstood/mischaracterized what I told them.”

O’Scanlon had previously said he would back marijuana legalization if it came coupled with funding for the training of drug recognition experts, increased funding for drug addiction treatment and education programs and, among other things, the restoration of homestead rebates and the senior property tax freeze.

Sources speaking on the condition of anonymity told the New Jersey Globe that Gov. Phil Murphy’s office had offered O’Scanlon a property tax relief component in exchange for his vote.

“It’s conceivable,” O’Scanlon told the New Jersey Globe when asked if he would vote yes on legalization Monday morning. “I’m not sure that they’re to the point that the bill’s even going to be up on the board. If it goes up on the board, it probably means they have the votes, and then it’s very likely that I’ve gotten everything I want, and again, the governor’s acted in good faith.”

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