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Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean. Photo by Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Senate GOP not whipping against marijuana

By Nikita Biryukov, March 04 2019 2:46 pm

Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean said the chamber’s Republican leadership is not whipping its caucus against marijuana legalization.

“This is an individual position for individuals,” Kean said following a press conference on an unrelated matter Monday.

Senate President Steve Sweeney and Gov. Phil Murphy have been hard pressed to gin up 21 votes for marijuana legalization in the legislature’s upper chamber, but that may change if they manage to flip one or two Republican votes.

A number of Democratic senators — including, among others, Sens. Brian Stack, Shirley Turner, Paul Sarlo, Nicholas Sacco and former Gov. Dick Codey — remain undecided on marijuana. Other Democrats, like Sen. Ron Rice, oppose legalization outright.

If Democratic leaders are able to secure a yes vote from Republicans close to the center — Sens. Kristin Corrado, Kip Bateman and Declan O’Scanlon are possible targets — they may save themselves significant pains down the line.

In any case, Democrats are keeping their own lobbying efforts in a sort of hibernation until the deal Murphy and Sweeney reached in mid-February is crystallized in a bill.

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