Home>Governor>Sweeney turns to voters for marijuana legalization

Senate President Steve Sweeney. Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe

Sweeney turns to voters for marijuana legalization

Legalization bill dead, expungement, medical expansion bills still being pushed

By Nikita Biryukov, May 15 2019 11:42 am

Democrats marijuana legalization bill is dead in the water, and Senate President Steve Sweeney announced Wednesday that it won’t be resurrected. Instead, Sweeney will seek to push through a ballot legalization ballot initiative for 2020.

“We will move forward with the expansion of our medical cannabis program as well as the progressive social justice reforms in the expungement legislation,” Sweeney said. “We will not, however, pursue the legalization of adult use marijuana at this time.”

Legalization efforts stalled in March after Democrats failed to whip enough votes to pass the Sen. Nicholas Scutari’s marijuana bill package through the Senate in March.

Since then, there’s been little progress on the issue, despite pressure from Gov. Phil Murphy.

Murphy and legislative leaders have long resisted turning to voters in their legalization efforts, saying they’d prefer to do so legislatively.

Vermont is the only state to pass a legalization bill through its statehouse. All other states that have legalized did so using a ballot initiative.

Now, it looks like New Jersey will join those ranks, but it won’t do so in 2019, when Assembly races are at the top of the ticket and turnout is expected to be low.

The ballot measure won’t go up until 2020, Sweeney said.

Advocacy groups weren’t thrilled at the shift in priorities, but they were pleased that the state wasn’t dropping marijuana reforms altogether.

“While clearly disappointed that adult-use legalization has been put on the backburner, we are thankful that medical cannabis reform is moving forward and patients will finally have greater access and be able to participate in a more affordable program,” said New Jersey Cannabusiness Association president Scott Rudder. “We look forward to continuing to work with the State as it develops and expands its medical program and we will continue to advocate for full legalization and the social justice reforms it brings.”

Further complicating marijuana legalization efforts is a growing feud between Murphy and Sweeney over tax incentives meted out by the state’s Economic Development Authority.

Sweeney skipped a meeting on legalization with Murphy and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin last week, telling reporters that he had somewhere more important to be.

The task force that Murphy created to investigate abuses of the EDA’s tax incentive programs has publicly taken aim at firms with links to South Jersey power broker George Norcross, a childhood friend and political benefactor of Sweeney’s.

That fight has seen Sweeney announce the creation of a Senate special committee to investigate the tax programs. Sweeney on Monday declined to rule out having the committee investigate Murphy’s EDA task force.

He said he hadn’t thought about it.

Spread the news:
RELATED ARTICLES
Filter by
Post Page
Feature Right Governor Legislature
Sort by

Phil Murphy, Steve Sweeney have a deal on legalized marijuna

Governor working to sway undecided legislators
February 15, 2019 7:57 pm

24

Sweeney picks senators to review EDA tax incentives

Four Democrats, three Republicans named to panel
May 22, 2019 1:54 pm

18

Sweeney forms his own EDA task force

New Senate Special Committee for Economic Growth will review past economic development
May 9, 2019 3:45 pm

18

4 thoughts on “Sweeney turns to voters for marijuana legalization

  1. Thanks for nothing Democrats. The rightwing Democrats indulging in alcohol supremacist bigotry need to be primaried but I guess that won’t happen. Maybe some Republican cannabis haters will be defeated in November, but most likely the overwhelming will of NJ voters will just get stiffed, because when it comes to cannabis, in states that don’t have citizen initiatives, this country is much more of a dictatorship than a democracy. The will of We the People is clear, and it’s being suppressed by tyrannical bigot thugs.

  2. Thanks for the stab in the back, Democrats. The rightwing Dems indulging in alcohol supremacist bigotry need to be primaried but I guess that won’t happen. Maybe some Republican cannabis haters will be defeated in November, but most likely the overwhelming will of NJ voters will just get stiffed, because when it comes to cannabis, in states that don’t have citizen initiatives, this country is much more of a dictatorship than a democracy. The will of We the People is clear, and it’s being suppressed by tyrannical bigot thugs.

  3. There was a comment, you just didn’t want to print it, tyrannical bigot thugs didn’t pass muster.
    So, you got a better name for it?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *