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State Sen. Declan O'Scanlon (R-Little Silver). Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

O’Scanlon wants voters to decide on legal weed

GOP senator now a solid no vote on marijuana legalization

By Nikita Biryukov, November 15 2019 12:41 pm

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State Sen. Declan O’Scanlon wants to leave marijuana legalization to the voters.

“It’s time to end the mixed message being sent to the public, the industry, law enforcement, and both opponents and supporters of marijuana legalization,” O’Scanlon said. “We should abandon efforts to move legalization legislation during the lame duck session and firmly commit to sending the question to voters. To be clear, I will be a firm vote against any form of legalization legislation until and unless voters have voted in favor of legalization.”

Democrats marijuana legalization efforts were scuttled earlier this year after Democrats failed to whip enough votes for the measure in the Senate.

O’Scanlon was then the only Republican senator who would not rule out voting yes, though a yes vote from him would have come with some qualifications.

The senator’s newfound stance is rooted in a belief that marijuana legalization should be handled gingerly and with enough time to guard against potential pitfalls.

He also said he believed lawmakers committed to legalizing via referendum after their last pass at legalization.

Still, the senator backs loosening marijuana laws in other ways.

“It is imperative that we move forward immediately with legislation that decriminalizes possession of small amounts of marijuana,” O’Scanlon said. “The social justice implications of this widely-supported aspect of cannabis policy are irrefutable. This area of policy shouldn’t wait a year. Getting to clarity on the details of this mission should be our immediate focus and enactment of the policy a top priority.”

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