State Sen. Nicholas Scutari on Thursday said he hopes the legislature will have a final version of its marijuana legalization bill by next week.
“We’re working on it. Hopefully by next week, we’ll have a final version,” Scutari said. “You’re talking a lot of text to make the changes that we have agreed to into the bill.”
Gov. Phil Murphy and Senate President Steve Sweeney reached an agreement on marijuana legalization last month, but movement on the issue has since stalled in the absence of a finalized bill to around which to whip votes.
Sweeney has said he will not begin whipping votes in his caucus until he has a final bill, and a number of undecided senators, including, among others, Sens. Paul Sarlo and Joe Cryan, have said their support for marijuana legalization will hinge on the contents of the final bill.
Scutari said the complexity of the issue was to blame for the delay, adding that he wasn’t completely confident a bill would emerge next week.
“I am hedging,” he said. “I haven’t finished my review.”
New amendments to the marijuana bill were still coming in, said Scutari, who declined to give a date by which he could guarantee the bill would be complete.
The problems are likely to continue once a bill exists. In previous attempts at marijuana legalization, Democrats failed to reach 21 votes in the Senate, and they may have trouble reaching that magic number once more.
Sen. Ron Rice has said he will not vote to legalize marijuana. Others, including Sens. Dawn Addiego, Brian Stack and former Gov. Dick Codey, have said they are undecided.