Trenton’s top Democrats suggested they would not hold off until next year to renew their push for marijuana legalization after a legalization vote was scrapped Monday because of a lack of support in the Senate.
“The status quo is unacceptable. I’ve already mentioned 600 people, about, will get arrested this week for marijuana possession. We all agree with that,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “Sooner is better than later. There’s an overwhelming sense that sooner is better than later.”
Senate President Steve Sweeney has previously said marijuana legalization would be delayed until after the year’s Assembly elections if lawmakers failed to pass it Monday.
Sweeney, Murphy and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin moderated those statements Monday, suggesting that looming budget talks may not be enough to waylay legalization efforts.
“I recognize and agree with the senate president that we want to make sure that we don’t let this get too tied up,” Coughlin said at a press conference with Murphy, Sweeney and others. “But that doesn’t mean there’s not a window of opportunity between now and budget season.”
Still, legislative leaders aren’t sold. At an earlier press conference Monday, Coughlin said it was too early to say whether lawmakers would make another run at the issue Thursday, though he seemed to have moderated his skepticism somewhat by the time he appeared alongside Murphy and Sweeney.
Though he was similarly cagey on timing, Sweeney was clear about what needs to happen for marijuana to get to the floor of either chamber.
“When we get to 21 and 41, you’ll see it again,” he said.